Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Republicans Vote to Lay Off More Cops and Fire Fighters

Let's just call it what it is, shall we? When you use the term "revenue sharing", people don't seem to understand what that really means here on the ground - and what it means is that your community will be less safe, your home and family possibly put at risk, your insurance may increase, all to satisfy the insatiable greed of a group of people who put party ideology before the welfare of the citizens of this state.

Sure wish the mayors and other city leaders would get together and revolt against Lansing. Or at least, acknowledge that it is the Republicans who are insisting that these cuts should happen. Of course, as soon as Dillon rolls over again for the Republican demands, it will be a "bipartisan" problem - and the Democrats will once again get blamed.

The movie starts all over again in 3... 2... 1...

Michigan's local governments would lose about 4 percent of their state tax revenue sharing payments under a bill passed by the Republican-led state Senate.

The bill passed 21-17 today mostly along party lines would cut payments starting Oct. 1. Democrats including Gov. Jennifer Granholm want to keep the revenue sharing payments at least even with current levels.


Officials with local governments have said continued revenue sharing cuts would worsen their finances and likely lead to reduced services including more layoffs of police officers and firefighters.

You ain't seen nothing yet. Since this legislature won't lift a finger to address our inadequate tax structure, chronic budget deficits are what we are going to get for years to come - even as our economy starts to grow again. Speaking with the Business Leaders yesterday, our non-partisan fiscal experts painted a bleak picture:

Gary Olson, director of the Senate Fiscal Agency, projected with annual growth at 3 percent, the state will face a $1.2 billion, or 13 percent imbalance, in the 2012 budget year; a $1.6 billion, or 17 percent shortfall, in the 2103 fiscal year; and a $1.8 billion, or 19 percent deficit, in the 2014 budget year.

"What is clear to me is the current budget is not sustainable," Olson said. "There must be massive changes to the revenue side of the equation and spending side as well."

Added Mitchell Bean, director of the House Fiscal Agency: "Even in moderate recovery, we will still have to cut the budget or find revenue somewhere else."

If schools, universities and city officials are struggling with the cuts we are seeing now... just wait. It can and will get worse, especially if the Republicans get their way. Not only has every Republican gubernatorial candidate suggested that "more tax cuts" are the answer to our problems, they, for the most part, willingly admit that they will throw people off of health care to cut the budget. The schools will be on the list too, even though they won't say that now. To top it off, whoever gets to deal with this mess will be stuck with a bunch of new legislators that won't know what the hell they are doing.

The 2011 Legislature will be ill equipped to deal with the crisis, experts said, because term limits will take a huge bite out of legislative experience. There will be 50 to 60 new House members next year and more than 100 with less than two years on the job, and at least 30 new Senators who will have this problem dropped in their laps.

"There seems to be no appetite to raise revenues (taxes) or to cut the budget, either," Bean said. "That is the problem."

Then it's time to hold the leaders of the chambers accountable. Right now. There is a perfectly good budget plan on the table from the governor that would not only hold schools and cities harmless, but give business a tax cut and the elimination of the MBT surcharge as well. Dillon and Bishop are choosing to leave a flaming train wreck for the next legislature to address - and that in itself should disqualify the both of them from future political office.

Enough is enough. Who will stand up for our state?

UPDATE: The Senate Dems tried, anyway. Here is a bit more on the cuts from their release.

Senate Democrats stood up for Michigan workers, police officers and fire fighters today and voted against the Senate Republicans’ budget proposals that cut $4.5 million from No Worker Left Behind, $46.1 million from the 21st Century Jobs Fund and 4% from local revenue sharing as part of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth (DELEG) and General Government budgets. Senate Democrats also opposed the Senate Republicans’ Department of Transportation budget that cuts public transportation and specialized services for the elderly and disabled.

The elderly and disabled - seems to be the Republicans favorite target, other than the kids.