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!