Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Letter on the Budget Mess

This is a letter to the Detroit Free Press, September 25, 2007, from Michael Emlaw, the former Superintendent for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District:

Blame is not equal for all

Blaming everyone equally in the state budget crisis ("An utter failure of leadership, Sept. 23) is an abdication of your usual thoughtful, reasoned editorial stance.

This is a contest to win public opinion that one side in particular hopes will translate to election victory. So there is a stubborn insistence that the other side take total responsibility for the tax increase every knowledgeable person knows is necessary. That's the major stumbling block. Everyone is not equally to blame.

It seems clear those advocating a tax increase are exercising real leadership at some personal and political risk to themselves. It also seems clear those arguing for a solution based on cuts are not leading, but pandering.

Michael Emlaw

Ann Arbor

The Mess in Lansing

The Michigan Legislature has 5 days to come up with a balanced budget for this coming fiscal year. For an up-to-the- minute account of what is happening, go to the Countdown to Chaos website and listen to the ticking clock.

I'm no expert on this, but this is what appears to be happening:

After months of fruitless negotiations between the Democratic-led House of Representatives, the Republican-led Senate, and Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm, there has been no agreement. The Senate wants to extend the current appropriations while a deal is being worked out. The Governor says she will veto a temporary measure that does not include tax increases and she has a good point: every delay in balancing the budget ultimately costs the people of Michigan more money and allows the deficit to grow without a solution at hand.

The Senate has passed a bill that includes cuts with no tax increases and leaves a $560 million deficit. The cuts to current appropriations include $111.7 million from the Department of Community Health, $3.5 million from the Department of Education, and $207.5 million from the Department of Human Services. The DHS cuts include closing the Maxey Training School, a correctional facility for juvenile offenders 12 - 21. What happens to those kids? Wherever they go, will it not cost money to house, feed, and educate them or will we just send them home? Am I the only one who thinks about things like that?

Apparently the Republicans might agree to raise the state income tax from 3.9% to 4.3 %. The Democrats want to raise it to 4.6%. Some Republicans and Democrats are refusing to vote on proposed bills for fear that whatever they do, someone might not like them. Of course no one likes them now, but that apparently hasn't registered with them.

A government shutdown is a distinct possibility and I have no idea what that will look like. If you don't think this will affect your children, think again.

Find your State Representative here and your State Senator here.