Let’s just step back, take a deep breath and consider the following. Our state government is in the worst financial mess that almost anyone can remember. This isn’t just about politicians.
It has major implications for all of us. For our schools, for our colleges and universities, for our medical care, and for our state’s future. We are heading towards some kind of catastrophe.
The only question now seems to be how large the disaster will be and how long the pain will last. And yet, there seems to be far too little sense of urgency among our elected leaders, even though we hire them to prevent such messes and fix them when they happen.
There seems to be far too little leadership, period, especially perhaps on the part of the governor of this state.
And there seems to be far too little sense of responsibility to inform us properly on the part of the state’s media.
Let’s look at Jennifer Granholm. Nobody asked her to be governor. She campaigned long and hard for the job.
Last year, she was re-elected by a landslide. She promised leadership. Well, where is it? The vast majority of us do not understand the crisis, or how or why the state is in such a hole. Nor do we have much idea what will happen if we don’t fix it.
Nor do we understand why a tax increase might be better for them than further cuts. Granholm does understand all those things. She is a superb communicator. Even her enemies say she is one of the best in politics. So why hasn’t she used her skills to communicate the reality of the situation to Michigan?
Why doesn’t she ask for, or buy, half an hour of television time and do her best to make us understand the situation? She has a responsibility to do that. She has a political obligation to try to persuade us to follow her lead. That might indeed be hard.
But that’s what leaders do. Getting people to do the easy thing is never difficult. Getting them to make sacrifices is leadership.
Instead, the governor has State Budget Director Bob Emerson do her dirty work. It was he who had to propose the two penny sales tax on services that went nowhere.
Late last week he announced that if the budget standoff isn‘t resolved by May 1, the schools will lose $90 to $125 a pupil for the rest of this year. That would guarantee that many schools will close in financial near-chaos. Mark Deldin, superintendent in Chippewa Valley, put it best. “The tragedy continues,“ he told the Macomb Daily. “School boards are left to deal with the legislators’ inability to lead.”
Yet this new crisis was almost entirely eclipsed in our largest newspapers by the released confession of the man whose wife was chopped up. We’ve got something bigger than a budget crisis going on. And when I think of our democracy and our future, I get scared.