For the last month, Michigan has been watching the slow-motion train wreck that is our legislature in action as they spin their wheels on a budget deal. Then, two days ago, GM’s workers went on strike and it looked like that might be all she wrote for Michigan. Thankfully, the UAW and GM reached a deal early this morning and the strike is off.
A budget deal, however, hasn’t been as easy to reach. The AP’s Lansing Bureau Chief, Kathy Barks Hoffman was interviewed by Jack Lessenberry on Monday. Her story this morning in the Detroit News warns that even when they do pass a budget, there will be little the public can do to influence the spending or cuts:
Even if a temporary budget is adopted, there will be little time to deliberate the details or give anyone a chance to testify on how the state should divvy up the roughly $43 billion in annual spending.
“There’s no opportunity for public input. There’s no opportunity for hearings. There’s no time for new ways to look at things,” said William Rustem of Public Sector Consultants, a nonpartisan Lansing think tank.
What on earth do Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the state Legislature think they were elected to do, wring their hands and play politics while the state sinks into chaos?
Their lack of accomplishment for the last nine months has been a horrible disservice to the people of Michigan, already living under clouds of uncertainty about their jobs, their children and their homes. Instead of doing their part to clear things up, the state’s chosen leaders have made the skies darker by failing to enact a state budget.
The three key leaders, Granholm, Dillon and Bishop, have to think less about what they want and come to grips with what they’ve got: a state on the brink of disaster. Settle on an income tax rate that will take care of most of the deficit, $1 billion or so. Explain to the public exactly how the money is going to be spent. Then suck it up and do the rest in spending cuts. Gore some oxen. And start reshaping state government for “the next Michigan” that Granholm gushed about in her State of the State speech way back in February.
If you don’t take care of “this Michigan,” the next one will be even more of a disaster.