We try to be as positive as possible, but I do hope that everyone (and yes, I’m looking at you elected officials) is preparing to need to do extraordinary things to keep our state and the people in it afloat.
1. Jack Lessenberry spoke with Ismael Ahmed, director of the Michigan Department of Human Services, who worries that Michigan is nearing the cliff, staring down:
…an explosion in poverty, in need, in families slipping below the water line, just at a time when he knows he is going to have to do much, much more with less money…
(Ahmed says) “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in poverty in the state. More than one-fourth of children are living in poverty. “More than 2 million people are living below the poverty line, and that’s still increasing. And when you count people who are working but who just don’t make enough to live, that increases to about a third of the state.”
2. When we look at our massive deficit, it’s instructive to look at what’s behind it. Peter Luke at mLive points out that tax cuts have left Michigan unable to invest in itself:
The Headlee amendment to the Michigan Constitution is simple. The state can collect up to 9.49 percent of personal income in taxes and fees approved by the Legislature. Anything over that has to be returned to taxpayers. The aim was to cap the growth of government.
…in funding essential services, state government in 2010 will collect a little more than half — $14 billion– of what the father of the modern conservative movement in Michigan thought appropriate.
For all the hand-wringing over how to return to prosperity, Michigan is unable to make long-term investments in its future.
Luke gets bashed in the comments on his article, but the case he makes that we have cut ourselves into a corner is worth a little thought.
3. On the bright side, the Michigan Policy Network says that our corner is nowhere near as dark as California’s:
The projected FY2009 budget gap is 672 million dollars. This number is significant, and additional cuts or tax increases are needed to stabilize Michigan’s economy. However, this budget deficit is only 2.9% of the size of the total projected budget, a comparatively small margin. While the situation seems significant, consider California. The nation’s biggest state has an astounding projected deficit of 35.9 billion dollars. That’s 35.5% of the total projected 2009 budget.
4. The Freep takes a look at a few measures designed to spark our sputtering economy.
5. Finally, I’d like to direct you over to Michigan in Pictures where you can see this photo from the pentax hammer bigger and hopefully take a little hope into your day from these words:
In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
~ Albert Camus