Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Veto Pen of Justice

Heh. Governor gonna do some vetoin'. Too bad she can't veto the entire Legislature.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm indicated today she will veto portions of a new budget approved by the Legislature because it cuts spending too deeply for schools, eliminates the popular Michigan Promise grant for college students, and jeopardizes local police and fire services.

Granholm said she would support a new tax on all physicians in the state that would generate an additional $400 million – mostly more federal money – as a way to head off cuts in Medicaid payments to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes.

She said it was inexcusable for the Legislature to miss the deadline to pass a balanced budget. She added that it "was not a pretty process" and that she bears some responsibility.

The outcome, she said, left much to be desired.

Understatement of the year. I laid down on the couch this afternoon for a brief moment and woke up four hours later, not surprising considering I had spent about 20 hours in front of the computer yesterday. I didn't see the press conference in real time because by the time I found someone who was streaming it on the net (WDIV, for future reference), the thing was just about over - but the Freep provides some nice highlights in this video:

And here is the text from the prepared remarks:

Early this morning, the Legislature acted on budget bills that averted a government shut-down. Michigan's constitution demands that a balanced budget be in place when our new fiscal year begins.

But Michigan's future demands more. Michigan's future demands a budget that helps us diversify our economy to create the jobs we need; that keeps police officers and fire fighters on the streets of our communities; a budget that helps our kids afford to go to college.

The budget the Legislature has passed fails to do all of these essential things. That's why I will continue to fight for the right budget for Michigan. In the days ahead, I will examine this budget in the same way you look at your family budget when times are tough.

I've cut more from the budget than any governor before me to make sure the state lives within its means.

And I will use my veto pen to shape this budget to protect the things that are most important to Michigan families. With Michigan's future on the line, we can't afford a budget that does less.

Let me be clear: The constitutional deadline has been met, but the work on this budget is far from over. This budget not only has the wrong priorities, it's a fiscal house of cards that relies on one-time federal revenues from President Obama that can't be sustained into the future.

In our system of government, only the Legislature can pass a budget, but my role is equally clear. I proposed a budget in February and put a revised proposal on the table in August to adjust to our decline in revenues. In between, I made $438 million in executive order cuts to bring spending in line with revenues.

And my budget director Bob Emerson and I worked closely with the legislative leadership all through the process. What we can't do is cast a vote for them.

So while I am disappointed with the budget that resulted from the Legislature's actions, I am determined to use my power in this process to give the people of Michigan a fiscally sound budget with the right priorities - diversifying our economy to create jobs, educating our citizens, and protecting those who are at risk during this crisis.

While I will not hesitate to act, the Legislature also needs to return to the unfinished business of this budget with the urgency and honesty it demands.

Early this morning, we averted a government shutdown - but we have not yet taken the critical steps needed to move our state forward in incredibly challenging times.

That is the real test of our leadership, and I believe it a test we can meet in the days and weeks ahead as we finish our work on this new budget.

Urgency and honesty from this Legislature? I will expect that right around the same time I expect my magic pony to get in here and finally clean up this house, dammit. The two have about just as much chance of happening. But, I suppose that after I get this bitter taste out of my mouth and the knot out of my stomach, I will get up and start beating on these fools in print once again.

Right now, I'm beyond caring what they do. I don't believe a word they say. The only thing that can bring them some redemption in my eyes is action - and I'm not holding my breath on that.