Thursday, May 13, 2010

Senate Republicans Slash Funding to Cities, 21st Century Jobs Fund, and Pure Michigan Campaign

This is what happens when you put a Tea Party Republican like Mike Bishop in charge of the government. Take a good look, and think before you vote this fall. The Democrats certainly have "issues" - but the Republicans are hell-bent on total destruction. Once again, the Senate is insisting on a party-line, all-cuts budget this year; they have already cut K-12 and college funding, now they want to absolutely "bludgeon" the 21st Century Jobs Fund, make more cuts to road funding, slash city revenue sharing again, and eliminate the Pure Michigan campaign.

It should be obvious by now - Republicans will do anything to avoid investing in this state, its people, or our future economic success.

Michigan Senate Republicans moved Wednesday toward a budget that slashes funding for local governments, roads and economic development programs, the 21st Century Jobs Fund and the Pure Michigan advertising campaign - but doesn't raise taxes.

Financially battered local governments would suffer another blow under a budget plan approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee that would cut their revenue sharing payments from the state by 4 percent.

On economic development, the general government bill bludgeons the 21st Century Jobs Fund with a 65 percent cut to save $48.5 million. And the Senate ditched funding from a new tax on cars rented near Detroit Metropolitan Airport urged by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and majority House Democrats to fund the Pure Michigan advertising campaign.

This is the Republican idea of "reform" for government: More cuts to your local schools. Higher college tuition for your kids. More cops and fire fighters laid off. Economic development efforts to create new jobs obliterated. Tourism advertising eliminated. They found a way to get federal matching fund for the roads - by stealing money from other road development budgets. How many jobs did they just cut here? Anyone want to hazard a guess?

And, proving once again that they own the House Democrats, they seemingly rejected all of the House suggestions on... apparently nearly everything. Money for DELEG was moved around, language changed in the Attorney General budget, House suggestions on the Executive, Legislature and Legislative Auditor General budgets, all dismissed. So much for bipartisanship. So, how is that "reaching across the aisle" working out for ya, Speaker Dillon? By the looks of it, you just got your face slapped. Hard. Again.

Senate Democrats did their best to stand up to this destruction...

Democrats tried to restore the revenue sharing cut, but Republicans rejected their effort on a party-line vote.

"We sat in committee maybe a month ago listening to some local officials talking about how revenue sharing impacted them and the impact is devastating," said Sen. Deborah Cherry (D-Burton). "It's not for fluff. It's for very basic services. We've put local governments in a Catch 22 situation because we also limit how they raise revenue."

City leaders, who are under incredible stress trying to keep cops and fire fighters on the job as it is, are going to be furious. And when it came to cutting the 21st Century Jobs Fund...

Democrats sought to restore 21st Century funding to the House-passed level, which would be a 3.1 percent cut from current year funding, but their amendment was rejected on a party-line vote. Still, Sen. Valde Garcia (R-Howell) said he had misgivings about the size of the cut and might oppose the bill on the floor.

"I have some reservations about how deeply we cut this particular program, especially since it is about creating jobs for the future," he said.

Sen. Glenn Anderson (D-Westland) slammed the scope of the cut.

"It's unconscionable in my opinion to make such a draconian cut to a program whose purpose is to create jobs," he said. "We should be doing everything possible to ensure this program's success."

Go read the MiTech/Gongwer story for the full account of how they "funded" the roads. Basically they just made more cuts, and shifted the money around. Pray the House Democrats grow a spine before this is over - or get ready to live in a state where you end up paying a very steep price for "conservative" economic polices that turn into back-door tax increases at the local level. There is conservative, and there is insanity - and we crossed that line sometime last year. Now, they are pushing for more.

While the rest of the nation moves forward in recovery, once again our Republicans would set us back - perhaps by decades.