Saturday, September 19, 2009

More Cities, Townships to Lose All Revenue Sharing Under Bishop-Dillon Budget Plan

Gongwer tells of how the agreement between Bishop-Dillon will completely eliminate some Michigan cities and townships from revenue sharing, and that counties will be taking a big cut as well. You didn't really need your police and firefighters, did you?

The proposed cut in revenue sharing under the targets negotiated by House and Senate leaders is 13.4 percent below Governor Jennifer Granholm's revised recommendation and would mean as many as three-quarters of the state's cities, villages and townships would no longer receive any statutory revenue sharing.

Of the $163.4 million reduction, $38 million alone would be cut from the city of Detroit, coming at a time when the city is in a serious cash crisis and at risk of municipal bankruptcy.

About half of the state's cities, village and townships no longer receive any statutory revenue sharing funding, but the plan under work in the Legislature would mean between two-thirds to three-quarters of them would cease to receive such funds.

On top of the $163.4 million, another $23 million due to counties would be cut under the targets. These are funds they would have received to account for inflation.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is already speaking out about the revenue sharing cuts, calling them "unacceptable, reckless, and unconscionable", as city police chief Mark Allen speculates that Lansing's cut would translate into the loss of "over 20 police officers and firefighters". Grand Rapids city manager Greg Sundstrom told legislators that "we are teetering on insolvency" in the state's second largest city, as officials grapple with a $20.8 million hole to the 2010-11 budget. Detroit officials have yet to comment on the situation, but Representative Fred Durhal Jr. called the cut to that city "draconian".

Peter Luke characterized the cuts under the Bishop-Dillon agreement as "some of the largest spending cuts in state history" as he added a couple more horrifying health care figures to the pile.

Instead of the Senate's proposed 8 percent cut in Medicaid payments, health care providers could see a 12 percent reduction.

Factor in the additional loss of matching federal aid, and one health care lobbyist said Friday that Michigan hospitals could lose $160 million in revenue in fiscal 2010.

Rep. Gary McDowell is working at cutting "another $200 million from already limping health care programs while hurting the fewest number of people possible", and is hoping that the targets will be revised after people see how damaging the cuts will be.

"What will be the impact on long-term care, on community mental health agencies and hospitals?" McDowell wondered. "Several facilities will probably have to close. What's the contingency plan for these people?"

And the ever-charming Matt Marsden lets everyone know just who is in charge here, thank you, and makes it very clear once again that Republicans only legislate for other Republicans, and that they have no intention of listening to other points of view.

"The people we represent have expressed that they want cuts and not new taxes, and that's what we're going to give them"

Well, it's a darn good thing they got so many supporters out in the last election then, isn't it?

Oh... wait... that was us. And the people that voted for "change" from Bush Republican policies are not going to be happy that their hard work and votes don't count at all in this matter.

The really scary thing - some House Democrats don't seem to get it yet. No matter how many times the Republicans say no to any other options besides these devastating cuts that are going to hurt people, and perhaps even lose Dems some seats in the next election after the fallout becomes clear, certain members seem intent on not listening to what is being said here.

But Representative Fred Durhal says it's time for lawmakers to start trusting each other. And he says that includes trusting that the Senate will be open to vote for new revenue if the House is open to deep cuts.

At some point, it becomes a dereliction of duty to ignore the intent of the voters, as well as destroy vital services that are needed for the health and safety of the people and the future economic growth of this state. If certain House Democrats want to believe that the Senate is going to restore this revenue after they have repeatedly said "no" to the idea, voters need to consider whether that representative is capable of fulfilling their responsibilities to their office.

And if they don't, perhaps it's time to start looking for someone who will.