October 1st, 2009


Oh You Knew This Was Coming

One Month Ago

I was going to blog about the fact that the Michigan legislature had one month to come up with a budget -- for a fiscal year which has already started for many universities and school systems. Given the current splits -- Democratic House & Governor, Republican Senate -- this annual budgetary nightmare gets pretty cranky. And last minute. And sometimes the state government has to shut down. Etc.

Besides the raw politics, Michigan does have some troubles. We have the highest unemployment rate in the nation (Yay -- We're Number One! ... oh... never mind) and the lack of jobs, the increase in downsizing incomes as people shift jobs and the bankruptcy of some rather large corporations in the state (GM, cough) means that tax revenues have fallen as well.

Promises, Promises

In an economy where getting an education is crucial, to say nothing of all the benefits of retraining the older out-of-work workers, it is ironic that various forms of the budget want to cut school spending by like about $260/student and to wipe out (or greatly reduce) the Michigan Promise scholarships. Yeah, those would be the ones which allow thousands of Michigan residents go to Michigan colleges on what was expected to be a four-year journey. I heard something to the effect that this was to be the year that the scholarships were going to be fully funded.

Nope. Hope you weren't depending on actually getting any of that scholarship money.

(And didn't the Promise scholarships come from the tobacco settlement moneys? Or was that just the down payment?)

Burning Down The House With The Midnight Oil

The Dems say you can't cut enough to make up the shortfalls, something like $2.6 billion before the Federal stimulus money gets poured in. The GOP says don't you even think of increasing revenue like taxes and fees.

So it came down to the wire. They locked the doors to keep the legislators in session. Midnight came and went. Technically the state shut down, but as most citizens and most state workers were asleep, it didn't matter much because... After about two hours they passed a one-month stopgap bill which the governor signed.

Round Three!

Having not solved this budget during the rest of the year, or the month of September Do It or Lose It, we now skip ahead to 31 October 2009 -- and see whether or not thirty-one more days of posturing and wrangling gets us anywhere.

(* head desk *)

Political compromise -- it does not mean capitulation. It does not mean that one side gets to dictate to the other what the terms are. We're talking about a state, not Use It or Lose It personal finances.

Do your jobs and fix it.


Dr. Phil