Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Governor Granholm's 2009 Year in Review

Me, 12/24/2008:
It's just going to take some time, and the will to fight through the tough times to come in '09. You ready? It's going to get pretty bad. With the auto restructuring, we are looking to lose anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 jobs next year. The dominos have already been set in motion. Tax revenues are down, cuts will have to be made, the right is gearing up to blame this all on the Democrats, and we are going to need all hands on deck to maintain the quality of life and the plans already in place that will position us for job growth in the future.

I knew it would be tough. And it was. The toughest year yet. It was historical. I don't think any of us have quite wrapped our minds around what has happened here in this past year - really this past decade, when you think about it. The major driver of this state's economy, manufacturing, and particularly auto manufacturing, was brought to its knees. 100 years to build, 10 years to nearly destroy. And it culminated with national economic conditions that haven't been seen since the Great Depression.

Imagine you are this woman. Tax revenues are plummeting. Unemployment is soaring. Two of the Big Three file for bankruptcy and teeter on the edge of extinction. Your state budget is $3 billion in the hole. The press is attacking, the citizens are hurting, the legislature is paralyzed... oh, and by the way, you're being vetted for the Supreme Court. Man. Through it all, you keep fighting for the priorities that you know are right, that you know will get us to where we want to go. So, not only are you trying to hang on to what you have, you are working to diversify the economy, build towards a better future, and most of all, stay positive in the face of such adversity. She isn't the cheerleader that she used to be - but she held her own through the toughest of times.

For the list of all the good things that have happened this year - and there were plenty when you look at it - check the state release here.

On a personal note, people can (and do!) call me all the names they want, send me hate mail, speculate on my motives (and it was never about a Lansing career, unless Al Goldis wants to give me his job) - I still am very proud to support this governor. I believe that we are on the right track, and the seeds that are being planted now in renewable energy, the film industry, health care, advanced manufacturing - all of that, combined with a revived and competitive domestic auto industry, will bring this state back again. You can see it coming.

But first, we have to get through one. more. brutal. budget - and this time, we get to do it in an election year. Oh my.

Granholm said she's ready and willing to enter into a "grand bargain" to restructure the state's outdated tax scheme. She said she's willing to talk about a tax revamping that brings in the same amount of money as two years ago, but a revenue neutral plan that maintains tax collections at 2010 levels would not be acceptable.

Asked what is meant by a grand bargain, she replied: "Everybody gives something, everybody gets something ... there's pain all around."

Such a deal might include lowering the sales tax and extending it to services, Granholm said. She added she's working with the business community, House Speaker Andy Dillon and "hopefully the Senate Majority Leader" Mike Bishop on such a tax plan.

The Governor said she's not going to throw some plan out there just to have them say "no" - this is going to take cooperation from everyone, and as we have seen so frequently over the past couple of years, that might be impossible, especially with the "Party of No" gearing up to use both the cuts and the economy against all Democrats in the elections. Next year will not be about Jennifer Granholm, and she knows it. When it comes to the budget battle, it's about the Mike and Andy Show, and what they have in mind for their future plans, God help us. We'll see the revenue numbers in January, and go from there.

2010 could be very interesting indeed. Fasten your seatbelts and grab some popcorn, and get ready to watch the show. There are teabagger Republicans that need a whoopin', and I hope you all will be around to help.