Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Sunday Paper: October 17, 2010

October in Eastmanville. Hope you have had the chance to get out and enjoy the spectacular show our state is putting on this fall season. Colors are peaking "around the knuckles" of the Mitten this week - check out some of the fall driving tours at for tips on where to travel.

It's another beautiful day, enjoy it while it lasts! Some odds and ends to chew over:

  • Peter Luke notices that neither gubernatorial campaign will be specific on answering questions about the budget and taxation. And one of them isn't even on the playing field of reality:

    Snyder's repeated call to cut business taxes was the subject of the first ad of his general election campaign, launched Monday, that asserts that Michigan's job loss that began in 2000 is the result of a bipartisan business tax overhaul that took effect in 2008.

    The Michigan Business Tax has turned into everyone's favorite villain this year, but the facts are: a) it didn't exist until 2008 and b) it only accounts for 11.7% of taxes paid by Michigan businesses. It's one of the biggest canards in this campaign season, if not THE biggest canard of this campaign season, when it comes to state political races. Where do you possibly begin when the whole premise of the argument is false?

  • Governor Granholm was forced to veto the federal $316 million for the education budget when "legislative error" in writing the bill caused the United States Department of Education to warn us that we might have to repay the money if it's found that we violated the funding law. Naturally, the west-side Republicans then reacted to their own incompetence by accusing the administration of trying to give a "parting gift to Detroit", and hinting they might try to override the veto so we can... continue to break the law and put this funding at risk, I guess. And we are back to the "false premise" problem once again. Look for this to get pushed to lame duck or beyond - sorry to all those schools that were counting on this funding anytime soon.

  • Good GM News: The Chevy Volt has been receiving rave reviews from the lucky journalists that got to play around with them this week - read the impressions of Mark Phelan at the Freep here and Scott Burgess at the DNews here. Sounds like they are having big fun with the car. GM is hinting that it will increase production, perhaps as high as 60,000 vehicles by 2012. Hope they didn't underestimate the market - buyers may be frustrated with a long wait. Crank it up!

  • Not so good GM News: The automaker was picketed Saturday over their plans to move tier-one pay employees to Lordstown, Ohio, and offer others retirement - and then fill Orion and the small car division with tier-two employees. The conditions of bankruptcy allow GM to do this, but look for the issue to return when the next contract negotiations come up. Some tier-ones may be able to transfer to Dearborn-Hamtramck at 100% wages, and it appears that GM is counting on attrition and transfers to make this as smooth as possible. Good luck with that.

  • MLive has been running a great series on the question of a Constitutional Convention, which will be on your ballot this November. While the idea may sound good in theory, do we really want the same cast of characters running or in office now anywhere near rewriting our Constitution? The more I think about it, the more I think "no". Can't take the chance. Special interest money rules, reality doesn't (see item 1 on this list) and until that is settled (ha!), we better make these guys do this piecemeal. Sad, but true.

  • Public Service Announcement: Michigan has opened up the Adult Medical Program enrollment until Nov. 30th, and up to 58,000 Michigan residents who had been frozen out since the budget cuts in 2009 will be eligible to apply. This includes the optical and dental benefits restoration passed so we could receive matching federal funds. The program for low-income adults who do not qualify for Medicaid, check with your local DHS office for details - and be patient with them, because they are probably very busy.

  • One last bit of good economic news to share: Investment in Michigan companies by venture capitalists is up 15% overall for the first nine months of this year. Investment dropped nationwide by 7.7% in the third quarter, but our state numbers increased during the period - still below '08, but showing steady gains. That means new products and new businesses are getting the seed money they need to create new jobs. Hey, I thought that MBT was driving everyone away...

    Enjoy your day - silly season will be here when you get back. Get that sunshine in!