Allow Me To Vent

Friday, September 28, 2007

I have been away from this blog for about 3 weeks. This is because I have worked 16, 18 and 24-hour days for the last 3 weeks, including Saturday and Sunday. Michigan faces a total government shutdown starting Monday if legislators cannot 1) pass a series of tax increases and department cuts and figure out what Michigan's revenue will be; and 2) pass the budgets, either as continuation budgets or as new budgets.

For some perspective, we have known for more than a year that this was coming; that the final $2 billion break-the-bank deficit was looming and needed to be solved. It's no longer simply that tax revenues are down. It's that Michigan has a structural deficit. This means that in some cases, regardless of how much money we pull in, the money we spend will be more.

There are some economic models for why this is so, including that it would actually be cheaper for Michigan to spend additional money on federal programs with matching funds than the way we do business now. But that's for another post once I have slept for more than 4 hours and can collect my thoughts. But I digress...

We have continued to know about this problem and have done nothing about it since January. And now, here at the 11th hour, now it finally seems to be a big fucking emergency. Well no shit.

For now, I am just bitter. A shutdown seem inevitable (though I remain optimistic they will take it right to Sunday night then figure it out before a shutdown), and legislative leadership on both sides seem completely incapable of striking a deal. This is not a display of the very definitions of the differences between Dems and Republicans when it comes to taxation. No. This is very obviously inexperienced people more willing to hold on to political philosophy as their bargaining method than reality. Term limits, people. Here they are. This is what they give you. I am fucking disgusted.

People speak of how "tough" this vote is. Bullshit. Vote to raise the income tax, and vote in a responsible series of departmental cuts to implement real change at the deaprtment level on how they do business. We need money...and we need to spend money to make money (again...a post for another time). Doing what's right takes balls. I have seen none. Legislators are more worried about protecting vulnerable seats or fragile political ideologies, so what you get is stalemate. DO what's right. Make your party vote the way you need them to in order to move a bill, and then protect them when the time comes. Both sides are bargaining from the position of "I get all the chips and they get none."

And in the midst of it all, I see my son for an hour here, an hour there. My wife even less. He looked at me yesterday and said "daddy, you not go to capitol today." I wanted to cry. But more out of rage for the chickenshits who can't figure it out.

Leon Drolet, a former state rep, is parking a 15-foot-tall pig at the capitol every day, saying to cut the prok and not raise taxes. He, and almost he alone, is holding a democratic majority in the house hostage out of fear. He has formed recall committees in the most vulnerable (meaning it voted a dem into office but its base actually polls republican) districts and that has them afraid to vote. I swear to God if I have to look at the pig one more day I'll flip out. But equally, I swear that if these folks don't man the fuck up, I will equally flip out.

Here's my call to all 12 of my loyal readers: threaten your own recalls. Here's the deal: legislators in Michigan actually only have duty, and that is to pass a budget. They have until September 30 every year. If they can't get it together over this weekend, recall them. They have failed. They are playing chess and the pawns and pieces are foster kids, Medicaid recipients, transprotation for the elderly, higher education, and the paychecks of my wife and our neighbors. Screw Leon and his silly band opf Kool-Aid drinking clowns with their empty threats of recalls over a tax increase. He hasn't the money, the manpower, nor the right candidates. Ignore him. But let them kknow that if they fail in their one job...they're done.

Thanks for allowing me to vent. Word is, I will be here all night tonight, and all weekend again as well. And then on Monday, we'll see if they shut down government and send people like my wife home without a paycheck. I take that shit personally.


Joel,  9:18 AM  

I am once again considering a move to Texas. As much as I loath the place, they have an economy and they have leadership. I really feel that there is nothing for me here.

Colin 9:31 AM  

This truly is a load of steaming BS. There's no questions about that. I'm frankly sick and fucking tired of bi-partisan politics, but the general populous seems totally brainwashed still...

A co-worker of mine and I had a great idea, based on some good stuff going on in New Zealand:

Why can't our State try something like this? It's pretty damned obvious that our legislature has their heads too far up their asses to get over ideal and partisanship and actually make a decision that works. So lets get some input from the people! Let the people decide what can be cut and what we need to keep working!

And if the public decides that the State DNR and State Parks funds etc are what need to be cut, and divert income from those services to help pay for others? so fucking be it! I can deal with it if I get a little more input than last time! (oh wait, those funds are constitutionally protected now aren't they?)

Recalls are a start, My vote is for voting from rooftops in '08.

Joel, there's less and less for me here every day too. How in sam fucking hell am I supposed to start a craft brewery in a state with an economy and beer tax like this?

I'm with ya Smitty, I'm a bit bitter.

Btw, your wife works for the State? Good luck bro!

steve s,  9:52 AM  

Thanks for posting this. I have my own opinions, but I was hoping you'd give us your take, because you definitely have a better grasp as to what is happening.

I don't believe I am saying this, but there needs to be a tax increase. Anyone that knows me at all knows that I am generally for lowering taxes, but there are some services that are just necessary. Don't get me wrong, the state wastes money on all sorts of dumb shit and they should continue to look at cuts, but this is just insane.

Initially I had supported term limits. With career politicians like John Engler, that isn't all that surprising. It is clear that, while they may look good on paper, they are a bad idea.

BTW, I am glad that DNR funds are protected. I got tired of money that I was paying for a hunting license going to something other than the DNR. IIRC, there were also instances when federal money for natural resources was diverted into other things. I know plenty of people that work for the DNR. It isn't as if they are overfunded.

steves 9:53 AM  

Oops, I forget to log in. Here is the dancer.

Colin 10:03 AM  

"I am glad that DNR funds are protected"

I'm with ya 100% Steves. I just think it's ridiculous that we had to amend the constitution to protect money that should have been left alone in the first plac. If they had asked the public before taking that money, it's obvious (by the '06 ballot results) that we (as a sportsman state) would've told them (as our government) to shove their money grubbing hands up their arses!

I'm willing to deal with a tax increase too. I won't be happy about it, but we gotta have a gov't no matter how crappy it is. And I'm always more congenial towards tax increases the more "local" they get. The City I live in has an income tax. I don't mind paying it one bit!

What about dropping parties from our state gov't altogether (yea right, I know...)

steves 11:39 AM  

Good point about the funds. It is kind of like saying, "we really mean it." I'd like to drop parties or at least have some viable third party candidates.

There was a editorial in the LSJ the other day about the liquor control commission spending money to keep an unconstitutional law banning total nudity in strip clubs that serve alcohol. Give me a break. I don't go to strip clubs, but if that is your thing, go for it. This just seems to be a big waste of money. It is like they are saying that if drinking is naughty and strippers are naughty, then drinking while watching strippers must be super-naughty.

Rickey Henderson 1:28 PM  

Welcome back Smitty. Rickey missed you mightily

Smitty 2:17 PM  

Well, Joel, there might be more and more for you here. I hear that the Kreiner "fix" legislation has somehow inexplicably become a part of the "deal" that will solve this state crisis.

At most, steves, your income tax will go from 3.9% to 4.6%. I am hearing, though, that they are settling more towards 4.3 or 4.4% as a final figure. But we'll see. Every god damned time there is a deal, it falls apart within an hour of the beginning of negotiations.

George 2:25 PM  

Good luck, Michigan folk! California likes to pull this shit, too.

B Mac 3:14 PM  

I'm pretty much embarassed at this point.

Colin 3:40 PM  

Now most of the time I very fervently ignore anything produced by the Lansing State Journal.

However, Derek Melot has an interesting point here:

Our Governor and our Legislators are on the verge of committing FRAUD. They HAVE NOT performed the job they were hired to do.

So what should we do? I'm with Derek, let's send a State Police Trooper and a Tow Truck to every Legislators house, and Ms. Granholm's. They won't question how serious we are after that.

And while I'm on the topic of Granholm... What about the whole f'in State Police development project that the MSP Colonel claims he never asked for? Where the F*&% IS THAT MONEY COMING FROM!! How can they afford to quit paying MSU, what is it, $1 a month in rent on their frickin' Headquarters on Harrison? Am I missing something?

Colin 3:46 PM  

let's try that link again:

Split on two lines, maybe blogger won't screw it up that way...

Andy 4:23 PM  

I have lots to say but, like Smitty, am taking every free second to spend with my family because otherwise I am at the capitol or my office.

My take - they need to put up or go home.

Forget party. Vote what you think is best. It is time. If you are against a tax increase and for service cuts, fine. Vote No on tax increase and tell me what $2 billion you want to cut and how it will affect the people and this state.

If you are supportive of a tax increase, vote YES. No more recall talk. No more politics. Do what you were elected to do. I know for a fact that 6 of the 8 Dem marginals want to vote yes but are being told not to. Well, it is time for them to do what is right for the state.

I got lots more to say, and will soon. But I am gonna make dinner for my family.

T-Minus 6.5 hours to gov't shutdown and my wife being laid off...

Colin 6:30 AM  

Well they did it. It's about time. The real question is then, can they keep it up? After income tax drops back by 2015, will we run into the same problem? Or can we now seriously discuss some Government Reform?

This early on, it's a bit tricky to get some solid news on what they decided (it was only three hours ago!*) but this is what I see so far:

-increase Income Tax to 4.35% with a dectrease back to 3.9 from 2011-2015

-Sales tax expanded to include many services

-Gov't "structural" changes incl. mgmt of teacher and other state employee benefits (anybody got more detail on this?)

I'm OK with the income tax increase. My libertarian side is screaming but it's nowhere NEAR as mad as if this was a Federal Income Tax rise.

I'm not too happy about the sales tax expansion. Cost of business increases never do anything except translate to higher prices for end consumers. That's just what this economy needs right now!

On a minor note, I though Granholm said she would veto a continuation budget unless they had already passed some tax increases or spending cuts? Perhaps they were close enough that she felt OK rolling the dice of Michigan's Budget?

* Gotta love this day and age. It's not even three hours ago now and I have almost the entire scoop on what went down!

Colin 6:59 AM  

hmm, I still sound pretty mad there... I'm EXTREMELY relieved that our Legislators were able to come to an agreement! I'm ok with whatever changes they had to make to avoid shutting down (as that's bad for everyone). I just hope we can use this as a springboard for some serious reform!

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