Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon Stew

Bunch of little things to talk about. I get in the habit of writing these kinds of diaries and sometimes can't shake myself out of it...

  • VP Joe Biden stopped in Saginaw to highlight the benefits of the Recovery Act, coming up on its one-year anniversary. Job training for workers, investment in green jobs that is certainly paying off in the land of Dow, the instant jobs created by road funding, the help to state budgets that kept "teachers, cops and road workers" on the job (Carl Levin's words. Imagine if we had made $3 billion in cuts to the budget last year instead of $1 billion.), the tax cut to working Americans - and the most important benefit that is certainly overlooked by most that want that pony right now - it kept us out of a Depression with a capital D.

    In addition to helping the country avoid a depression, Biden said, “The recovery act is working, it’s not only helping Saginaw get back on its feet, it’s the laying the foundation for long term recovery in the future.It’s taking a while to get out of this ditch, but it’s working. It’s helped in pulling us back from the brink.”

    How to get the public to understand what that means, how bad it would have been without it? Tours like this certainly help, but Congress and our Legislature still need to get off their duff and build on what we have started so we don't backslide. The cowards are heading for the exits, who will stand up?

  • Along the lines of "laying the foundation", the New York Times had a great story on how auto parts suppliers in the Detroit area are retooling and expanding into new business opportunities. The defense industry, aerospace, renewable energy including batteries, solar and wind, and innovations in the auto industry itself have seen "multinationals and start-ups alike coming to the state to build, buy or design a hodgepodge of products" in the past two years, as existing companies branch out as well. The seeds have been planted, and the jobs are either already here or certainly on the way.

  • One who knows all about those seeds is MEDC CEO Greg Main, who has been working feverishly at landing these companies to bring investment and jobs to Michigan. The ever-optimistic Main predicts our economic turnaround will start this year, and he can point to the reasons why in this extensive interview with Gongwer via MiTech News. This gentleman is truly a gem, and we should be ever so grateful for his efforts.

  • School officials are traveling to Lansing today to urge lawmakers to take up the service tax idea. Without revenue and "cost saving" cuts, they could be looking at another $255 per pupil hit in their funding. Tom White of the Michigan Association of School Boards reports that 40 districts are essentially in bankruptcy now, with 80 to 90 others right on the edge. Legislators begin the process of breaking the budget into committees as we speak. Any bets on how long it takes this year? Anyone?

  • In a move sure to piss off the Right to Lifers, Mike Bishop is holding up the stem-cell research restriction bills from hitting the Senate floor, citing the "will of the people" in passing the original ballot proposal. Interesting how that matters now, when Senate Republicans ignore the "will of the people" on everything else. The name of the game appears to be one of not drawing attention to themselves as tools of the extreme right wing, perhaps until after the election? Passing these bills would do so, and ruin the plan to simply lay low and run out the clock on this term.

  • Must be Michelle McManus didn't get that memo, because she has introduced legislation to eliminate no-fault divorce for couples with children. Divorce would only be allowed in cases of adultery, felony conviction, drug/alcohol abuse, desertion, or "extreme cruelty". In other words - more government for you in your personal life. Funny how that always comes from the "less government" crowd, isn't it?