Posts Tagged ‘shutdown’

Michigan Legislature Needs to Get to Work on Permanent Budget

October 5, 2009

Last week, Michigan saw its second government shutdown in the state’s history.  In the history of this country, only two other states have had government shutdowns because of a budget crisis, and Michigan is the only state to have more than one shutdown.  What’s even more sad is that the 2 shutdowns came only 2 years apart.

I ended up watching most of the late-night sessions last week, as I followed the budget crisis, and while there were some humorous segments (such as “I can count!” coming from the chairman of the Senate), most of what I saw was just sad – it’s sad that the Michigan legislature can’t pass a budget on time.

So why does Michigan have problems passing a budget?  There has been a fundamental failure in leadership, as well as the overall impacts of having the state in such a poor economic state.

Michigan is essentially the same position as it was for the 2007 shutdown: a Democratic Governor with terrible economic policies, a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with Andy Dillon (D-Redford) as Speaker of the House waiting until it is too late to work on the budget, and a Republican-controlled Senate who tried to get the budget done on time, but was unable to overcome the incompetency of the House.

In both the 2007 and 2009 shutdowns, work on the budget started too late, and many legislators (including Republicans) weren’t committed to finishing the budget on time.

While portions of the budget were being passed by the Senate late Tuesday night, the House had already recessed for the day.  We saw the same thing in 2007: Andy Dillon would go would only have the House in session once or twice a week over the summer, and he even took a five-day weekend trip to Mackinac Island after acknowledging that the state was facing a budget crisis.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) had been getting Senate budget bills passed and sent over to the House faster than House bills were coming to the Senate.

But this isn’t to say that all Republicans were trying to finish the budget on time or that all Democrats were uninterested in finishing on time.  While the Senate Republicans seemed to generally work harder as the deadline got closer, NOBODY was working hard enough in the month and weeks beforehand.  Instead of passing a budget 2 hours into the government shutdown, the legislature should be passing a budget weeks or even months beforehand.

Representative Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) has suggested that the Michigan Constitution be amended to require the budget be done by July 1st, and legislators wouldn’t get paid after that date until a budget was passed.  Bledsoe told the Detroit Free Press, “We’ve had every opportunity to get this work done earlier in the year.  There’s no excuse to be moving the budget as late as we did.”

Senator Hansen Clark (D-Detroit) has suggested fining legislators $1,000 a day for each day after the fiscal year that a budget isn’t completed, with the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leaders paying $3,000.  He told reporters, “Even though many of us work long hours, we don’t have the same incentives as other sectors of the work force.  Typically, our incentive would be to do a good job so we can get re-elected, but apparently that’s not enough. … The leaders have to be accountable for results.  If you don’t perform the core mission of your job, and that’s to enact a balanced budget … there should be a penalty.”

Former Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R) said that the problems run deeper than just legislators not cracking down in time: “The gap between revenue and spending is so large that there isn’t any structural issue that can compensate for it.  It’s a much deeper issue that legislators don’t want to deal with.  Michigan as a state can’t continue the level of spending it’s enjoyed for many years.  The economy has downsized underneath it.  Until you change the tax structure and the spending process, this kind of paralysis is likely to continue.  There is no process change that is going to make this a rational, timely, decision-making process.  Until there are fundamental changes, you can’t avoid this kind of chaos.”

And in part, I would agree with that.  The Democrats in the legislature have refused to accept that spending cuts are an inevitable result of the state’s deficit.  Taxes can only be raised so many times and only to a certain level, and when you’ve exhausted that option, you have to cut spending.  Michigan is not in a position to raise taxes.  Businesses won’t come to Michigan if we raise taxes, and we’ve even seen film companies come to Michigan now that we have a tax credit for film companies.  Raising taxes is only going to hurt the economy more and drive more people out of the state.

Fortunately, an interim budget was passed and signed by Governor Granholm only 2 hours into this year’s shutdown, but we aren’t in the clear yet.  The legislature gavels into session tomorrow, and a permanent budget still needs to be passed for the new fiscal year.  Unless legislators understand that spending cuts are not and option, but a necessity, and that they have to start cracking down and getting to work, we will wind up seeing a full government shutdown when the interim budget expires.

And we need to learn from our mistakes – this cannot happen in 2010.  It’s just unacceptable.  Fortunately, 2010 is an election year, and lawmakers will be trying to pass a budget on time so that they can get reelected, but unless things change, we will see ourselves back in this same position in 2011.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Movements Begin to Recall New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine

April 1, 2008

A movement in New Jersey has begun to recall Governor Jon Corzine (Democrat) as the website Recall Corzine Now gains popularity.  The website was launched on March 25th, 6 days earlier than expected, after phone calls began pouring in to the recall headquarters.  1.3 million signatures are needed in order to have a recall election, so they’ll need more than that since many signatures will be invalid, either because of a simple mistake or because Corzine will have his cronies out there signing petitions to throw off the valid count, as well as send out petition blockers.

That’s why it is SO important that true opponents to Corzine do this the right way.  New Jersey has been under the control of the corrupt Corzine too long.  He has damaged the state badly, the shutdown of 2006 being one of the worst things he has done.

I wish all of my conservative (and liberals fed up with Corzine) friends in New Jersey the very best in recalling Corzine!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Michigan Should Have a Part Time Legislature

February 2, 2008

This is a movement that I have supported especially since the budget crisis last year.  In 2007, the House of Representatives spent 134 days in session with the Senate having 132 days.  In 2006, the House spent 95 and the Senate spent 98 days.  In 2005, the House was in session for 110 days and the Senate 113 days.  Legislatures are paid $79,650 per year with $12,000 yearly expense allowance for session and interim (vouchered) set by compensation commission.

Henry Woloson, a lawyer from Clarkston, wrote into the Detroit Free Press (http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071114/OPINION02/711140332/1068/opinion) in November of last year.  Woloson was fed up of the way that the Michigan Legislature was being run:

How can Michigan taxpayers justify the cost of our full-time Legislature, one of only four such lawmaking bodies in the nation?

The 46 states with part-time legislatures managed to pass their required budgets on schedule. Michigan’s 148 full-time lawmakers, with extensive recesses and vacations, needed 30-day emergency budget extensions, midnight madness sessions, and special-interest coordinated tax sales to produce the budget mess that is likely to be at least partially repealed.

Adding political insult to taxpayer injury, Michigan, with a population of about 10 million, has 23% more legislators than California, population 36 million, and the only state paying its legislators more than us.

And this is Woloson’s plan that he wants to put on the 2008 November ballot:

[L]egislative sessions would be limited to 90 days between Jan. 1 and April 30 each year. Special sessions could be called, but, with no additional compensation, these would hopefully be rare.

Other provisions include: 1) Elimination of lifetime benefits for legislators. 2) Freezing salaries pending later review. 3) Downsizing the Legislature from 148 to 100 members (75 representatives and 25 senators). Estimated annual savings: more than $30 million.

Additional items being considered for inclusion in our proposal: 1) Extending term limits to 12 years for voters who value legislative experience. 2) Having the terms of both representatives and senators be four years with one-half of each group standing for election every two years.

A companion plan to extend the state sales tax to campaign advertising might best be a separate ballot proposal. Since nearly $200 million was spent in Michigan on political campaigning in 2006, a 60% increase from 2002, this would be a fairer and more collectable source of revenue than taxing tattoos, baby shoe bronzing, escort services, etc.

Woloson will have 180 days to get 300,000 signatures once he begins collecting.  You can contact Woloson at hwoloson@ameritech.net

Here’s what I would at least like to see happen:

  • Cut the pay of the legislators – they are incredibly overpaid.  These are some stats that I found about other states that are full-time legislature states (and these were just the easiest to find.  I’ve spent about 3 hours looking through different details and roll calls of different states, and I haven’t been able to come up with many results about how many days are spent in session):
    • Wisconsin spends 62-92 days (depending on how long it takes to pass the budget) and their legislatures make $47,413 a year.
    • Illinois had 143 House sessions and 119 Senate sessions, yet they only make $57,619 per year.
    • Pennsylvania had 91 sessions and their legislators are paid $73,613 per year (that’s a little high in my opinion).
  • I really don’t see the need to shorten the period of time that the legislators meet, as long as their pay is cut.  I think about 100 sessions is perfectly long enough for the state to get stuff done, so if we want to set a limit, I’d say set it at that.
  • We do need to downsize the legislature to at least 125 members.
  • Get rid of the LIFETIME health benefits.
  • An interesting idea proposed by the Arizona legislature (House Bill 2157): Miss a vote, forfeit that day’s pay.  (see more here: http://ncsl.typepad.com/the_thicket/2008/01/vote-or-pay.html)
  • If we cut the number of legislators down to 125 and cut their pay to $65,000, that alone would take the cost from $11,788,200 to $8,125,000, a difference of $3,663,200 a year.  Then we could get rid of the lifetime health benefits (their public servants, not welfare dependants).  Get rid of some staff – we have WAY too many!

Here are some interesting websites to check out:

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Michigan Will Avoid Second Shutdown?

October 30, 2007

With 1 day left before the budget deadline extension expires, it is up to the Michigan Senate and House to iron out whatever kinks they have left, and then pass it on to Governor Granholm.  From all that I’ve heard, it seems like the Senate and House are in agreement on cuts this time, so we should be good to go – and see what Granholm does.  Unfortunately, all of the news out currently is from before the sessions that started today, so we’ll have to wait and see what happened.

Done Hoping,

Ranting Republican

Well, the Shutdown’s Over, and so Are Our Chances of Economic Recovery

October 4, 2007

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while – school got a little hectic, so here’s the post I started working on a couple days ago: 

As I’m sure most of you have heard by now, Michigan ended the shutdown 4 hours and 18 minutes into it when some Republicans finally caved in to kill the economyvote for the Dems’ budget.  Now – I don’t have as much of a problem with the income tax increase as I do with the service tax, because the income tax had a 5 year sunset, while the service tax is a brand new tax that’s here to stay forever (reminds me of Ted Kennedy, crap that’ll be with us for way to long).  Here’s an abbreviated list of what will be taxed (the full bill is available here: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2007-2008/billenrolled/House/htm/2007-HNB-5198.htm):

  • Carpet and upholstery cleaning
  • Business advising
  • Armored cars, guards, etc…
  • Investment advice
  • Janitorial services
  • Landscaping, gardening
  • Bail-bonding
  • Astrologers, psychics, etc…
  • Coin operated machines
  • Credit Card Notifications
  • House Sitting
  • Pay phones
  • Wedding chapels and planners
  • Any scenic, tourist, ski lodge type stuff
  • Packaging, labeling, shipping, etc…
  • Storage services

And that’s abbreviated – basically all the smaller constituents who don’t have lobbyists in Lansing.

The Monday that the budget had passed, I was at an Isabella County GOP event where 99th Michigan House of Representatives Representative Bill Caul was there to speak to us (and he was doing quite well for going 2 days without any sleep).

One of the things that he mentioned was that other states who have added a service tax which taxes storage services have later gone back to make this include banks, because they store money (although I think credit unions would be exempt due to their non-profit status – go credit unions!), which really concerned me.

The point is – this new tax is here to stay, and it’s largely the fault of some Republicans.  Those who caved should be voted out of office – they are a disgrace to the party and have joined the Michigan Democrats in killing our state.

The effects won’t be seen immediately, but when less people can afford to go to ski lodges and tanning booths, over time, this WILL take a toll on the economy.

Hopefully we can recall Granholm and these traitors sometime soon, and get Michigan back on track.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

State of Michigan Is Officially Partially Shut Down

October 1, 2007

Well, it’s happened.  As of 50 minutes ago, Michigan is now officially (partially) shut down – although, I found out that our casino here in Mount Pleasant will stay open due to the fact that it’s an Indian casino.  I’m guessing we’re gonna have massive anger when the college students realize there’s no more beer, maybe then they’ll contact the stae legislators and Governor Granholm and tell them to just start cutting the extra fat out of our budget.

Will the last one out of Michigan please turn the lights off?…Oh wait, Jenny just did.

Ranting Republican

Michigan Closer to State-Wide Shutdown as Granholm’s Favoritism Playing Comes Out

September 28, 2007

It is almost inevitable that Michigan will shut down on Monday due to the fact that we cannot agree on a budget.

Well, maybe if we didn’t plan on spending so much money on our State Trooper headquarters, giving this money to Joel Ferguson, Granholm’s friend and supporter.  Check out this video from WXYZ – ABC Detroit…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alhunnwIZXY

Look at Granholm SQUIRM when confronted about her lie that Michigan State University asked for the land back!

And if we were to go into a shutdown, why would we shut down the lottery and casinos – when these are PURE PROFIT programs!

The Republicans CANNOT budge on this – we don’t need this big of a tax hike – we need to cut frivolous spending.

Contact your representatives, and URGE them not to give in, even if it means that in a disgusting power play, the Governor shuts down the state.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Michigan May Go the Way of the NHL: LOCKOUT

September 27, 2007

Well, with the Michigan Legislature looking like it won’t be able to agree on a 2007/2008 budget that Governor Granholm also agrees on, Michigan may go into a partial government shutdown on Monday.

The Dems insist that we have to raise taxes, and the Reps refuse, putting the state into a stalemate.

First – taxes do NOT need to be raised for this state to have a balanced budget.  We could cut funding in areas like the First Gentleman’s staffers.  Dan Mulhern has three paid staffers, at least one of whom a $115,000 salary and benefits package.  We’re ranked THIRD in the nation for paid staffers for gubernatorial spouses, yet we’re the state with the WORST economy.

Second – we can cut funding to schools – so that they learn to manage their money better (i.e.: DETROIT!).  This last year, the greedy Detroit school district teachers went on strike because they, as always, want more and more money.  This stems mainly from the problem of:

Unwilling to compromise for the better of the public
Niggardly
Ignorant
Organized Crime (Jimmy Hoffa)
No Scabs!
Sorry, we’re not coming back to work unless we have benefits up the wazoo


Hehe – mini-rant. Sorry!  Anyway – I’m sure that we can afford to cut some funding to schools.  Do they really need a $14 million dollar brand new building (Milan – a few years old by now)?  And the Detroit schools – we gotta learn to cut costs there and just improve it.  Most of the teachers I know say that the public school system wastes so much money.  Moving on.If the state were to shut down, no state employees would be paid (including legislators – but I’m not sure about the Governor – I’m assuming she wouldn’t, but don’t quote me on that).  Secretary of State would get shut down, as would the lottery.Wait – we’re going to shut down a source of essentially pure income – the lottery???  WHY THE HECK WOULD WE DO THIS!  We gotta find a way to keep the lottery going at least.

Basically – what we need to do is find areas to cut pork barrel spending, and then cut these areas.  We don’t need a tax hike – that’s just going to kill our economy more.

I’m guessing that if we do shut down, the Dems will be the first to give in when they don’t get paid – but that’s just my prediction.

EDIT: And a point that I forgot to mention earlier – and Nick’s comment jump started my memory: the Republicans have asked for a one month interim budget, and the Dems. are refusing. It’s not like the Reps. are saying “NO COMPROMISES” – they’re willing to talk for another month – they just don’t want to shut down the government.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican


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