Friday, December 04, 2009

Saturday Update

The zoo at feeding time.

Michigan Weekend Update:

  • Speaker Dillon tells Jack Lessenberry that next year's budget deficit might be as high as $2.8B - much higher than the $1.6B that had been previously mentioned. What happens if BFF Mike Bishop continues to stomp his feet and hold his breath and say "no, no, no" to the future of our state?

    “For starters, you eliminate all aid to higher education -- all of it,“ he said. The tuition increases that would cause would cripple research, damage building programs, prevent upkeep and throw college education out of reach of hundreds of thousands.

    Even then, the savings would only close half the gap. So the lawmakers would also have to cancel all aid to community colleges and end revenue sharing. “And the budget would still not be balanced.” So you’d have to start cutting Medicaid.

    Sometimes I think the reason they didn't run around and scare the hell out of us this year is because they knew they were going to run around and scare the hell out of us next year. Dillon has a "grand bargain" to increase revenue and have the budget done by March. Has that been cleared with Bishop yet? Why do I hear hysterical laughter in the background?

  • If that is the true figure on the budget hole, then the work that Governor Granholm has been doing all over the state will get everyone prepared to plead the case for revenue to their legislators next year when these cuts come to light and they start to chicken out again. This week the Governor moved on to revenue sharing, meeting Friday with 20 West Michigan fire and police officials to hear about the depths of the cuts they have already endured. The consensus is they are all at the breaking point now, residents will be "at risk", Wyoming police chief James Carmody saying, "We can barely respond to 911 calls." That the kind of state you want to live in? "Business" won't. Think about it.

  • The Bishop-Dillon budget just keeps on trickling down, two more communities are taking matters in their own hands and considering asking voters for a millage hike to protect public safety. Kentwood, right outside of Grand Rapids, hasn't decided on a figure yet, but is shooting for a May vote after cutting 20% of its workforce in October. A teabagger interviewed admits she "doesn't know much about the budget", but figures they must be hiding something. Mayor Richard Root calls it:

    "If you've allowed your perceptions to become ideologies, and you've locked yourself into a particular position, they're probably not going to be influenced," he said. "The only proof I can offer is after they see the train wreck. I'm trying to avoid one."

    Bloomfield Township will be seeking a 1.3 mill increase to save police, fire and emergency services before it becomes a matter of "life and death". Citizens there are in favor of the increase by a 52-39 margin, and that's according to Republican pollster Mitchell Research $ Communications. Wonder if that one will show up in Mike Bishop's next campaign e-mail.

  • Kathy Barks Hoffman has a great write-up on the budget/revenue situation in Michigan, pointing out some historical facts on the drop in $$, but also reporting there is some hope with the new entrepreneurs in alternative energy and technology that are starting to grow. Some facts as a sideline to the AP report: General fund revenue has dropped from $9.79 billion in fiscal 2000 to $6.95 billion this year, a 32 percent reduction. Adjusted for inflation, revenue is down nearly 43 percent. The General Fund has dropped nearly 27 percent in the past two year alone. School aid has dropped $1 billion in the past two years, down 14% since the year 2000. And about all that wild "overspending" Republicans love to complain about? Yeah, baby, we are partyin' like it's 1969.

    General fund spending is at its lowest level since 1996 in actual dollars-and its lowest level since 1969 in inflation-adjusted dollars.

    'Nuff said. Back to the better news...

  • Gongwer/Mi-Tech News has an interview with the MEDC's Grag Main who expresses optimism that a turnaround is coming next year, citing all the work they have done in the past couple of years that will start to come to hiring fruition as companies are now set to go. And, as commerical fleet operators are moving towards hybrid/electric cars, "Michigan has really, really anchored ourselves as the place where you're going to see most of that production" for battery development. Positive article that focuses on the strides we have made - and those are always a welcome sight for sore eyes.

    Have a good Saturday!