Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time for Dillon and Bishop to Step Down?

To dream, the impossible dream...

Detroit Free Press, May 13th:

Dillon and Bishop like to say they have a good working relationship, but so far all they have to show for it is a bipartisan nothing-burger.

Each man has made notable efforts to jump-start the budget negotiation process. But neither has been able to rally his caucus behind what virtually everyone outside the Legislature agrees will be needed to fix Michigan's structural budget imbalance: a combination of spending cuts and the elimination of loopholes that currently exempt much of Michigan's economic activity from taxation.

Every day the standoff lingers is a day Michigan goes deeper into the hole. Taxpayers deserve a new legislative leadership team that is focused fully on the budgetary crisis at hand.

They are not going to "do the right thing" here. That much is obvious. Self-serving election year politics are the priority, the future of the state and the welfare of its people be damned. Nothing gets fixed this year. Nothing. The best we can hope for out of these two is to cobble something together that hurts the fewest citizens possible. Doesn't matter if they use federal dollars, doesn't matter if they securitize the tobacco money again, this legislature is going to leave a big, flaming mess for the next, and we might as well just accept that.

When it comes to the needs of the state, its future, its people, the words "sacrifice" will not be found in any lawmaker's personal agenda this year. Sacrifice is for other people as far as they are concerned - and that means you, citizens of Michigan. You will be asked to sacrifice in the form of higher tuition, higher insurance rates, more expensive car repairs, longer wait times for the police and fire department to show up, many other ways these "cuts to spending" turn into back-door tax increases as they trickle down to the local level. And, your state is being asked to sacrifice precious time as the national recovery takes hold, while these two worry about their personal campaigns for higher office.

Lansing State Journal, June 1st:

Bishop and his Senate Republican caucus are adamant about avoiding tax reform, even though the state is pulling in less than $7 billion a year for its general fund. That's down more than 30 percent since John Engler was writing executive budgets.

Over in the House, Speaker Andy Dillon seems less and less in touch with his own Democratic caucus and unable or unwilling to confront Bishop with a package of spending cuts and tax reforms that polling shows the public could accept.

It cannot be a coincidence that both these men are leaving the Legislature at the end of the year, and that both are vigorously pursuing higher state office (Dillon for governor, Bishop for attorney general).

The LSJ Editorial Board noted some time ago that Dillon's aspirations interfered with his day job and created a need for him to step down. Last month, the Detroit Free Press Editorial Board argued Dillon and Bishop should step aside.

The likelihood of such withdrawals is less even than the Legislature adopting a balanced and prudent state budget by July 1.

And that, Michiganians, is leadership the state no longer can afford.

See the clock running over on the top of right-hand side of the page? Apparently it is going to hit zero, and, what a shocker, the budget will not be finished. Gongwer headline, last night:

BUDGET MAYBE DONE IN JULY, OFFICIALS SAY

While it is not likely to come as a big surprise, officials in the administration of Governor Jennifer Granholm do not see any likelihood the needed changes to the 2009-10 budget and passage of the 2010-11 budget will come by June's end, but they are hopeful that a resolution can be reached by early July.

July 1st is the last session day scheduled as of this writing, and that is the start of the traditional two-week July 4th break. Because they are anxious to get out and start campaigning this summer, there is a chance that they will return the week of the 5th and try to get something done. But don't hold your breath. Maybe that clock should be left up there as a little reminder to the voting public that, once again, these two cannot deliver. On anything.

There is another clock running though, that being the one the hits zero on August 3rd. That is when you, citizens of Michigan, can weigh in on the performance of these two "leaders". If you are lucky, you can weigh in on the performance of your local representatives as well. Won't that be nice?

Looking forward to it. With glee. My only regret is I can't vote on both ballots.