5 Minutes in the Next 3 Days – Grumble or Act


The comments to last week’s RFL were the best ever, I think. They were richly diverse and deeply thoughtful. I’m looking for even better this week.

Apologies to non-Michiganians, but this is a huge week for political – and for everyday – leaders in my home state. Thursday we begin a new fiscal year. The legislature has been unable so far to agree to a budget to send to the governor. As the clock winds down, you can ignore them, grumble, or act.

The story is much simpler than most seem to think. The manufacturing meltdown and national recession have badly shrunken tax revenues. Various interest groups – e.g., finance, unions, manufacturing, hospitals, doctors, social service agencies, and the arts – are all vying to receive help – through lower taxes and/or government support. The Republicans have staked out a consistent, ideological view: they want to eliminate the $1.3 billion shortfall by cuts-only. They say that neither citizens nor businesses should be asked to pay more taxes.  Citizens are hurting and businesses create jobs, so, they argue, why would we want to make it even harder for them. They know the cuts are going to be deep and painful, but they believe that in the long run we will emerge leaner and more competitive.  Dem Speaker Dillon has supported this in a deal with Republican Sen Bishop, but has at other times said we probably need more revenues.

The Democrats have largely called for a balancing of cuts with some revenue increases. They argue that many proposed cuts will only lead to higher costs, for example, if you cut children’s preventive health you will pay more later; or if you take cops off the street, people will pay as crime victims and through their insurance.  Some Dems also argue for the morality of fighting cuts that will close nursing homes and mental health clinics. They also argue that cutting funding to schools and scholarships will actually hurt our ability to attract good jobs and the diminish our citizens’ ability to hold those jobs. The Dems have accepted cuts to many programs, but they argue that we should also cut the special tax benefits that were given to some industries like oil and gas that other industries don’t get. They argue these are actually (tax) expenditures that should be cut. The Dems have trotted out different revenues they consider tolerable, e.g., a penny on a bottle of water, or a percentage surcharge on tickets or rental cars.

Those are pretty much the positions. Of course, there are a thousand nuances, as people support medicaid reimbursement, cops, arts, schools, etc. Who should take the biggest hit or be protected the most? So, what do you say? Don’t write me!!!!

Be part of the democratic process by writing the governor, your representative and senator.  They count the votes.  In a representative democracy your voice helps them lead with their best self.  Taking a stand at a tough time is also a way for you to . . .

Lead with your best self!



  • Your comment “quit whining and…” can be applied outside of budget issues too. If I spend too much energy on my current reality, I will miss openings and opportunities that are consistent with my vision. As a career coach, I see this fixation on the current situation a lot. But, people who are out of work have a choice: they can dwell on their unemployment and become overwhelmed by the prospect of looking for work, or they can in your words, “quit whining and…” get busy building some skills to alter their current reality. Yes! they CAN land jobs and Yes! we CAN move beyond the current reality of the budget by committing to the outcomes we envision and taking action.

  • This morning on WKZO Radio in Kalamazoo, our morning diva Lori Moore (her description, not mine) provided some statistics that show how Michigan has gotten into its current situation. For one, of course, Detroit has roughly half the population it did in 1955. (It used to be the 5th largest city in the U.S., now it’s 11th.) Also … and this is staggering … Detroit has lost 87% of its manufacturing jobs since that time. With manufacturing –including its associated blue collar and white collar jobs — providing such a large income for any economy, it’s easy to see how it all can start.

    Add to that our lack of independence from foreign oil, the foreign oil embargoes dating back as far as the early 1970s, and the fact that many countries (including Japan) supplement their auto manufacturers to such an extent, and it’s possible to see one hit after another.

    If you look at events over the years, it’s easy to see that our current situation isn’t the fault of one group or one political party. But one thing is for sure: In order to get out of the place we’re in, we’re all going to have to work together.

  • you have the ear of the governor. What about companies like Nestles water which sucks out our water free. How about a tax on every liter? Also, how about the returnable tax on every thing plastic, just like cans of beer and pop. Maybe a .10 cent charge, 5 back to the customer, 4 to the state and 1 to collect, or something like that. We must think out of the box. Every landowner who takes water should pay a well head fee for the use and the consumption of water like the rest of us do.When was the last time we raised a beer and wine tax. a hundred million cans of beer or more or less could raise a lot of revenue. legalize certain amounts of marijuana-not the dearlers-reduce our prison population because of it. in order to save big, we must think big.other states due it and so do other countries. what about water current turbines for electricity, we have a tremendous amount of moving water. we could sell to electric companies and or pay for our(state) use.more to come. karl striebel

  • It took me less than 10 minutes to click on the links provided (in your post today) and voice my concerns about the budget crisis to the Govenor & my legislators. Thank you for providing such an easy mechanism!

  • Has the Governor made a proposal herself? I haven’t seen her stepping out in public to take a stand. It is a tough call – more revenue is needed, but will it worsen the business climate even more?

    I want my governor to lead with her best self too.

  • Dan,

    Thanks for the call to speak out. Crises like those challenging Michigan seem insurmountable to the average citizen. For most people, all problems are local problems. Some of us have grown hoarse from complaining and criticizing, demanding that our state and federal governments solve our local problems. The cacophony has grown so overwhelming, I fear we have deafened our representatives, asking them to wield the power of the state on a local level, as if we were calling the support line for our computer or cell phone. It truly is time to share our thoughts on solutions to the problems. Perhaps none of us has a solution. Perhaps all of us, together, do have a solution. From tiny acorns mighty oaks do grow. I sent off my bag of tree nuts this morning.


  • Laura,
    Your perception is interesting. Jennifer submitted a budget back in February and set priorities. As negotiations began, she and the 2 legislative leaders agreed that they would not battle it out in the media, hoping to keep bruised egos (I’d say especially male ones 🙂 but that’s my bias) get in the way of hard compromises. She respected that for a long time, but then released her proposal a few weeks ago. It’s aligned around: protection (e.g., police but also protection of the vulnerable), diversify the economy (e.g., using incentives to continue to develop film and energy sectors), and educate (e.g., early childhood which remains potent but badly underfunded, k-12, No Worker Left Behind, and Promise Scholarships). She proposed deep cuts – including to earned income tax credits, but also to outmoded business tax loopholes – and also revenue enhancements taxes and fees that spread the hurt and are progressive not regressive. That’s the blueprint.
    Maybe she needs to get out there more.

  • Dave,
    It’s an interesting viewpoint. Mary is wrong on Governor’s stance on health care. She remains open to it. Mary Kramer makes an interesting point on tax expenditures. She wonders – not exactly taking the position – that we should eliminate business incentives and just improve the tax structure generally. That’s an interesting position, but i disagree. I think we really need to stimulate these new sectors – like energy – that play off our strengths, rather than just hope lower taxes alone will do it.
    I also tire of comments like “public sector spending is not an investment.” Really? Investment in great schools does not generate economic value? The continued repetition of that view is dangerous to our longterm welfare. Do we really want to be what Missiissippi and Louisiana are fighting to escape from: bare bottom taxes with no decent public investment?
    Not my choice.

  • I do not live in Michigan either, although I was born there (Crittenden hospital in Detroit) and lived in Rochester until my high school years.
    My father was a mid level Chrysler exec. There was never anything but the big three, and a few small units such as American Motors. Life was good, living in the country v. downtown city, playing sports, climbing trees, planting a garden, riding horses…….but before all that came SCHOOL responsibilities. Education was assessed as the way to get from blue collar status to white collar financial rewards. Unions felt that blue collar should be paid similar to white collar, although the school discipline wasn’t a necessity. I had numerous job options as a high school kid, and beyond. Free enterprise was not involved as much with the lobbyist influence and corruption peddling rampant today, at every government level.
    I cannot give Michiganders a direction to follow in order to serve a resolve to the immediate crisis in your state, but I do know this…..both parties that control our government have let down their constituency, selling themselves as prostitutes to their greed influenced paradigms. Sadly, the best resolve at this point is revolutionary….the removal from power both Democrats and Republicans.


  • We have a failed political system. No longer is there the “after 5 friendships” of the past. It is all over… is on a national level with the President and Congress. Whether it was Bush or Obama, Republicans in charge of the Congress or Dems, the results are the same. Zany political one-ups-manship that reads well in a press release. In Michigan, it is the same. The Governor is paranoid someone is out to get her, get credit, or somehow challenge her. House and Senate politicians vote on political agendas, not with their eyes on their constituents. We are told to deal with tax increases because they are a necessary “sacrifice” even as they send more people and businesses leaving us dry. It is a wreck right now in Washington and in Lansing. The only positives I have seen have been the leadership of Dillon (health care initiatives) and Bishop (pushing forward with hard cuts) and the two of them partnering together to figure out what they can do since no one else has taken the lead. That’s the only positive. Considering that I just mentioned over 700 local or national politicians, that’s sad.

  • I do want to ad this note, for what it is worth. I take this ‘demise’ of Michigan, and Detroit, personal. My ancestry was very integral in the formation of Detroit as a city, especially along the river, River Rouge, etc. Loyalty runs deep, to all of my heritages, French, Ottawa Indian, Michigander (by birth and childhood), but most importantly…..AMERICAN. In quoting John Paul Jones, a sailor, a patriot, “I have not yet begun to fight.” This should be the everyday citizens mantra. Apathy needs to be a forgotten trait of so many.

    However, due to the failures of representation, I’m strongly looking for replacements…..across the board. Sort of like the owner of a pro sports franchise. WE own this country. YOU work for US. STEP UP, or STEP AWAY.


    On a better note: Congrats to Brandon Inge, repping the Tigers and central Virginia quite well.

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