Thursday, September 03, 2009

Negotiating With "The Party of No"

Mike Bishop's mouthpiece speaks to the press on Tuesday, demanding that House Democrats and Governor Granholm show their plan for balancing the budget.

"We're not going to be able to reach agreement until the governor and the Democrats put forth a solution that represents an alternative to the solution we passed in June," said Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester.

Mike Bishop, in a letter obtained by Gongwer that was sent to the Governor on that very same day, seems to warn that presenting such a plan would not be welcome.

"Please be aware, however, that last-minute efforts to infuse discussions with new ideas that have not been vetted or prepared for legislative action are not productive," he said.

New ideas? Does that mean that "ideas" have been presented to the Senate previous to today's meeting? If so, why are the Senate Republicans running around to the press claiming that they haven't seen any plans from the Governor or the House?

Something doesn't add up, but that is to be expected when negotiating with "The Party of No". On one hand, they say "we're done, we've finished" with the budget, on the other they demand to see an "alternative to (their) solution", while at the same time they issue a vaguely pre-emptive "no" to any solution that might be presented. Alrighty then.

It has been widely reported that the hang-up is on the budget for FY 2010-11, and MIRS reported yesterday that the Senate Republicans are demanding even deeper cuts than the $1.2 billion they want for FY2009-10 - which would kick in a month before the election, mind you - but even they can't agree on where to cut next. Apparently, there is some question to the legality of passing the 2010-11 budget now as well, and that lands in the hands of... Mike Cox. Lovely.

If the Attorney General OK's the legalities, the budget bills could be passed now and then Emerson would present an identical budget in February. The Legislature could pass supplementals (negative or positive) as needed, something lawmakers will likely have to do, regardless.

This idea apparently has some appeal for the administration and House Speaker Andy DILLON (D-Redford Twp.). However, a well-placed source said that the holdup is that Senate Republicans want more budget cuts for FY '11 -- above and beyond their $1.2 billion proposed for FY 2010 -- but they haven't been able to settle on them.

Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM has come out with $634 million in revenue for FY '10 -- about two-thirds for the General Fund and one-third for School Aid, which doesn't include the racinos or pulltab proposals. Republicans haven't signed off on revenue either, with Matt MARSDEN, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike BISHOP (R-Rochester), saying that the ball's in the Democrats' court. He noted the Senate had already passed its FY 2010 budgets without revenue increases.

And again with the "we're done" statement. So, what's to negotiate if you're a Senate Republican? And what could possibly be left to cut after the devastating cuts they have already made?

This is what we are up against here concerning the Republicans. As far as the Democrats go, the Lansing rags are reporting that House Democrats received a questionnaire at their meeting yesterday, asking about what programs they are willing to cut, and what sort of revenues they are willing to vote for. Doesn't sound like they have a solid plan at all at this point - and that's not good, but at least they are finally getting around to taking the temperature of the caucus.

And down the road we go. The marathon negotiating session takes place today, with invited guests who offered to bring ideas and help mediate, but MIRS is reporting that Bishop changed his tune on that after he first agreed to it, of course. No surprise there; it's standard operating procedure when you represent "The Party of No".

Stay tuned...