Legislators' plans to come up with $150 million in additional cuts beyond Governor Rick Snyder's budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year came into sharp relief Wednesday as a host of House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees approved budgets for departments and other major budget areas.
Among the casualties revealed Wednesday were the elimination of the scaled back $25 million film incentive program, a 3.4 percent cut to community colleges, a dramatically sliced clothing allowance for welfare recipients, a steep reduction in the State Disability Assistance program, halving a business attraction and economic gardening incentive program proposed by Mr. Snyder, the elimination of all Healthy Michigan funding, the cutting of all but a $100 placeholder for the Graduate Medical Education program and a steeper reduction to non-Medicaid mental health.
All this happened while thousands of protestors were at the Capitol, trying to make their voices heard. It's obvious the Republicans are not going to listen. Watch the video:
Is case you couldn't hear over the shouting, here's the attitude of Republican Matt Lori of Constantine:
"They certainly have an impact, some people have come up to my office to talk to me about this sort of thing, but honestly I'm so busy working on my budget, the actual demonstrations don't have much of an impact on me personally because I'm just doing so many other things with so many other people".
Keep in mind this is a guy who just got back from a two-week paid vacation, causally dismissing the concerns of his constituents who made the effort to come all the way to Lansing to talk to him.
The words "general strike" and "recall" are starting to be uttered more often. Go for it. There comes a point where protests lose their media punch, and more concrete action is called for. My hope is that the Democrats are at this very moment making note of all these Republican votes, formulating their own budget plans, and recruiting candidates to take back the House in 2012.
It's the only way to put a stop to this - and even then it might be too late.