Monday, June 14, 2010

Dillon Goes on the Air

You can check it out on YouTube if you would like, or you can spare yourself the nightmares and just read the AP description...

House Speaker Andy Dillon will launch the first TV ad in the Democratic governor's race on Tuesday.

The 30-second spot aims to introduce the lawmaker to Democratic voters, half of whom remain undecided according to recent polls. It promotes Dillon's record as a former business turnaround specialist and his success in passing a bill creating a state fund to invest in jobs.

Yes, it's curious that Dillon chose to focus on the 21st Century Jobs Fund, created in 2005 to target high-tech and knowledge based start-ups for investment and access to capital so they could create jobs and bring new industry to the state. It is a fine idea, attracting the careers and companies that are both in high demand today and have predicted growth for the future.

A leeeetle issue happened to the Fund in last year's budget though. As part of the General Government budget, you know, the same budget that cut 11% from revenue sharing when Dillon decided to take the "tough fight" to our Michigan cities funding for cops and firefighters, the damage to the 21st Century Fund went something like this, originally from MIRS:

The 21st Century Jobs Fund takes a $46.5 million cut, leaving the program with $28.5 million in FY 2010. Typically, that fund is supposed to be operating at $75 million a year.

It was probably one of those things that the House was going to "get back later", right? From the Gongwer story on the vote:

Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) told reporters after the vote that he had enough votes to pass general government originally, but there was some trepidation among members.

"They just want to know this arrangement is going to come together," he said of restoring the revenue sharing cuts in a supplemental. "I believe it will."

He said in order to get the continuation budget in place it was necessary for the House to pass the general government budget.

The measure, which besides the revenue sharing cut includes reductions in various state departments including the Legislature and Executive Office, passed finally on a 56-52 vote.

Democrats who supported the bill were: House Majority Floor Leader Kathy Angerer (D-Dundee), Rep. Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea), Rep. Bob Constan (D-Dearborn Heights), Rep. George Cushingberry Jr. (D-Detroit), Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.),Rep. Kate Ebli (D-Monroe), Rep. John Espinoza (D-Croswell), Rep. Richard Hammel (D-Flushing), Rep. Michael Lahti (D-Hancock), Rep. Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland), Rep. Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard), Rep. Tim Melton (D-Auburn Hills), Rep. Mike Simpson(D-Jackson), Rep. Jim Slezak (D-Davison) and Rep. Dudley Spade (D-Franklin Twp.).

We all know how that turned out, as the budget was one of the six that Bishop held hostage for weeks in an attempt to obstruct any changes to the cuts, whether it be cops and firefighters or job creation programs or whatever. It was not open for negotiation. And anyone with a brain in their head knew that at the time.

But wait! That's not all! The 21st Century Jobs Fund is under attack again this year from Senate Republicans...

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.

The House-passed version called for a 3.1% cut, and the Senate Dems did their best. To no avail, of course, because we will not have bipartisanship when it comes to this Senate. You should know that by now.

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.

The 21st Century Jobs Fund has seen a considerable drop in funding under Dillon's watch. A Crain's report describes the evolution of the entire program, and sums it up like this...

When the $75 million annual revenue stream started up in fiscal 2008, there was full funding toward the program's job-creation purposes plus an additional $50 million appropriation for tourism and business promotion, for a total of $125 million.

But in 2009, the Jobs Fund got just $52.9 million, with $22 million being diverted to the budget gap, according to the administration.

In the current fiscal year, the Jobs Fund got just $28.5 million.

In upcoming fiscal 2011, the state Senate has proposed reducing the contribution further to provide $26.5 million. That compares with $75 million proposed by the governor and nearly $73 million proposed by the House, an amount that is expected to be reduced during reconciliation talks with the Senate to approve the budget.

Will Dillon cave to the Senate again on a program that he is touting in his own advertising?

Anyone want to place any bets?

It's actually a very nice ad, and I agree with him on that thing about hiring Michigan workers at the end there - but notice that hasn't passed yet either. So much for that ability to forge agreements across the aisle. Seems like lately it's been a one-way street only.

Yeah, thanks, but I'll pass. Seen this show before.