But what can you do? Anyway, welcome back to another episode of “Let’s burn the furniture and eat our seed corn to get ourselves through the long winter.” We’ve had quite a few of these long winters in a row, and there’s no more hidden salt pork in the smokehouse. The rainy day fund is as dry as the Sahara desert.
Well, maybe not quite. Help is on the way from the federal government, and that evidently how the Granholm Administration plans on balancing the books without destroying the state. By the way, I would like to compliment Bob Emerson, the budget director, and whoever worked on this proposal. They did a creative job with what they had to work with.
That doesn’t mean I agree with all their priorities. They don’t touch retiree benefits or boost hunting and fishing licenses, which they certainly should do. But all those folks vote.
Kids don’t vote, but cutting school aid funding and aid to higher education is a bad thing to do, especially after the governor asked the colleges to freeze tuition.
However, the governor is betting that federal stimulus money will be available for schools and colleges, and also help make up shortfalls in other areas.
Now, is that what the administration intended? That the federal government should borrow money so that the states could avoid addressing their long-term budget problems? Of course not. But President Obama must have known this would happen, all over the country.
If this reminds you of an old shell game, well ... some of us old baby boomers remember when the state started a lottery in the 1970s. They sold it to us as a way to fund education, and indeed, lottery receipts did go to the education fund. But they took the money they used to spend on education and did something else with it.
In any event, this budget is more or less balanced, as long as the state can siphon off half a billion in anticipated Medicaid funds. Actually, I don’t really think it is balanced at all. I think it is based on optimistic assumptions, and the deficit is apt to be even higher than they are predicting.
Nor do I think the Republicans will go along with even the timid revenue enhancements the governor wants. So they’ll be back at it, fighting and cutting again.
Frankly, there is a solution. What we need is a constitutional amendment establishing a graduated state income tax.
Now I know the usual bloggers will say this would be the final triumph of Marxism, and our economy would turn into Bulgaria’s.
That is nonsense. This country went through a boom in the early 1960s, when tax rates were vastly higher than now.
You get what you pay for. If we want prosperity, we need good schools, services and roads. Michigan needs to reinvent its economy.
And providing a good storefront window is the way to start.