Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 20: Michigan Budget Held Hostage: Republicans Refusing to Fund Schools

  • 20 days have gone by since these bills were passed, 20 days!, and still the Senate Republicans are holding on to six budget bills for no apparent reason except to obstruct the process from being completed. Most reports have said the bills would be released today - but an ominous sentence at the end of the AP K-12 story indicates that it may be "later this week", very unfortunate because I really want to stop doing this.

  • About that K-12. Yikes. Granholm vetoed the 20j line spending that goes to 39 wealthy school districts, and vetoed $54 million total - and even that doesn't balance the K-12 budget, not by a long shot. How can they legally pass an unfunded budget and call it done? No clue. If someone knows the answer to that, please tell me.

    Governor sent a letter along with the vetoes that asked the lawmakers to please fund schools. Please.

    "The school aid budget presented to me is inadequately funded," Granholm said. "If this school aid bill were a check drawn on a bank, it would be returned for insufficient funds. To bring the budget into balance, I have vetoed $54 million in appropriations. But even these reductions will not fully resolve the shortfall.

    The Senate Republican answer? "No!" Apparently asking for a balanced budget from the people that were hired to balance the budget means the governor is just a one big bully - and they will now blame her for the additional cuts that the lack of action on their part will require. Underfunded schools is part of the "drown government" plan, you see. This quote comes from Gongwer:

    If in making the veto, Ms. Granholm hoped to push Republicans to vote for revenues, Matt Marsden, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester), said that would not happen. He said Mr. Bishop told Ms. Granholm last week that any funds she vetoes would be "seen as additional cuts by the governor to reduce the size of government."

    Senate Republicans have no intent to restore funding to make up for those vetoes, Mr. Marsden said.

    Schools are outraged, of course. Read the reactions at the DNews, the Freep and the AP, and wait for more local reaction today. It won't be pretty. And it's going to get a whole lot worse if additional cuts are forced by law - and that could come by the end of the week.

  • The refusal on the part of the Senate Republicans to raise revenue is out-of-touch with the majority of voters. Gongwer commissioned EPIC/MRA for a poll, mostly to find out who the public blames for this mess. Turns out they blame all three - the governor, the House Dems, and the Senate Pubs - by a comfortable majority, and for those who picked a single entity, the Senate got the edge. But overall, no one escapes the wrath.

    More important though was the question of revenue. Basically, the answers were about the same as the last EPIC poll taken at the end of September, with undecideds from the previous poll getting off the fence and pushing up the numbers in all categories.

    In terms of overall budget issues, a wide majority (62 percent) thought some revenues should be used to solve the budget problem, and that was up slightly from a similar survey done in September when 59 percent thought revenues should be part of the mix.

    Breaking down the revenue question, 59% said they would vote for a graduated income tax.

    Asked what revenue solution they would favor, 25 percent said a graduated income tax, 21 percent said extending the 6 percent sales tax to services, 17 percent said lowering the sales tax to 5 percent and extending that to services, 11 percent said eliminating tax breaks for corporations, and 9 percent said enacting an estate tax. Another 17 percent said they did not know.

    And, asked if they would support a graduated income tax if it were on the ballot (since the Constitution would have to be changed to allow it), 54 percent said they would vote yes, 5 percent were leaning toward yes, 34 percent would vote no, 2 percent were leaning toward no and 5 percent were undecided.

    For the most part, people are fine with paying the bills. Too bad the Republicans would rather destroy our schools instead.

  • Local stories on the loss of state revenue sharing combined with decreased property tax intake are starting to bubble up here and there - West Bloomfield being the latest to indicate that cuts to police and fire are on the way. Bay City is another that is making noise about cuts to the fire department. Once that budget is turned in and signed, look for these locals to start making permanent decisions concerning public safety.

    It won't be pretty. It might be deadly. And our Legislature refuses to do anything about it.

    That's it for now -