Governor Granholm’s 5th State of the State address airs tonight at 7 PM on Michigan radio & television. We have compiled a ton of links and commentary regarding the address and the current state of Michigan. We also encourage you to add your comments before and/or after tonight’s address.
In a potentially historic moment of agreement, both the Detroit News and For My Amusment Only see this week as a defining moment for the Governor, and Michigan. The state faces a $3.5 billion budget shortfall over the next year-and-a-half, a general fund that has shrunk to 1996 levels, a state work force reduced to 1973 numbers, an auto industry that is still in free-fall – all in the face of a health care & pension fed monster that demands more money every year.
While bloggers like Lunchbucket Conservative are wondering “Where are the leaks?” regarding the content of the address, we do know that the Governor is expected to propose a “No Worker Left Behind” program that would provide two years of free training or community college for displaced workers. Daniel Howes jumps into the it with both feet and writes the whole speech for the Governor. The core of his very interesting column is that while the Michigan must fund education and other services, before raising taxes, the state must undertake a sweeping public restructuring to come into line with the realities of the 21st century. Just in case anyone was thinking that the Federal Government would ride in on a white horse to save us, here’s news that Michigan will be one of 4 states to have its Medicaid funds cut in the proposed Federal budget.
Michigan’s Defining Moment?
It’s clear that the $64,000 question (or is that $6.4 billion?) is “How will we pay for it?” In an effort to determine how we will pay for it (and whether or not we should), Governor Granholm appointed former governors Milliken and Blanchard to head an Emergency Fiscal Advisory Panel. The panel’s unanimously approved report “Michigan’s Defining Moment” says the state is facing the most serious financial crisis in many years and concluded that Michigan:
- needs fundamental reform of both spending and taxes;
- must create a modern tax structure that abandons the focus on the economic system of the 20th century and looks to the developing economy of the new century;
- must end the disinvestment in education and those other assets that define the quality of life that knowledge-based workers seekâ”€cultural offerings, natural resources, and vibrant cities; and
- must develop a fiscal plan that includes a combination of revenue increases, spending cuts, and reform of how public services are delivered.
Statewide reaction has been varied. Polls (unsurprisingly) show that Michiganders favor cuts in services over tax increases. Still, with things like a $2,000 per student cut in school aid, elimination of college and mental health funding, slashing health care for the poor and letting everybody out of prison hanging overhead, it seems likely that something will be done. Reporter and essayist Jack Lessenberry has this to say in his essay Fiscal Crisis:
“The silver lining in this mess is that now that they have our attention, the lawmakers have a golden opportunity to fix this. They need to do so, to attract the kind of jobs Michigan needs. High-tech employers won’t come to a place where they have to worry about whether the science teacher is going to be laid off in March. Every governor since Bill Milliken has inherited a mess. If Jennifer Granholm wants to leave a legacy, it should be to leave a state four years from now whose finances are in good working order. “