An editorial in today’s Detroit Free Press sums it up: an utter failure of leadership. Once proud Michigan’s tourism slogan used to be “Yes! Michigan!” I think maybe now it’s “what Michigan?” That may really come true if the legislature and governor don’t resolve a $1.75 billion revenue shortfall before next year’s budget takes effect October first—failure to do so will shut down state government.
What on earth do Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the state Legislature think they were elected to do, wring their hands and play politics while the state sinks into chaos?
Their lack of accomplishment for the last nine months has been a horrible disservice to the people of Michigan, already living under clouds of uncertainty about their jobs, their children and their homes. Instead of doing their part to clear things up, the state’s chosen leaders have made the skies darker by failing to enact a state budget — the fundamental way elected officials provide a stable, functioning government that delivers basic services and makes Michigan a good place to live, work and learn.
So what do we need a legislature for if they can’t do their damn jobs? I say vote them all out at the next election regardless of which way they vote on tax hikes or spending cuts. It’s not rocket science! They have to eliminate the budget deficit. There are only 4 options: raise revenues (either through tax hikes or increased user fees—a form of taxes anyway), cut spending (and, thereby, services), borrow (which just defers the real problem), or some combination thereof. Here’s the part that seems to elude our so-called representatives: do something!
Now, I’m not an expert on the state budget or anything. I’m not in favor of cutting essential services like law enforcement, oversight of childcare, unemployment services, and things like that. But everyday on my way home from work, I pass an MDOT lot with what must be $2 million worth in new trucks and dumpers just sitting there. Been that way for at least the two years I’ve been passing it. Looks like a reasonable cut right there to me, along with the half-dozen or so state jobs for the idiots involved in wasting our tax dollars to put that stuff in a yard to begin with. Are there other yards like this one? Does every state government department have similar waste, fraud, and abuse?
I drive a lot, and this year nearly every major Michigan interstate and state highway I’ve driven on—at least a thousand miles worth—has been repaved. I realize federal money pays for part of that, but how much is the state match? How much of those contracts actually went into Michigan workers’ pockets? Not enough, since Michigan’s 7.4% jobless rate is the highest in the nation! If Michigan’s workers didn’t come out ahead on this deal, then we should have told the feds maybe next time. And what about the work that’s been underway to add more of those stupid variable message signs around Detroit and even rural Grayling (when’s the last time you saw a traffic jam at the I-75-US-127 interchange)? The signs are virtually worthless with messages like “Estimated time to xx: 9 min” as you sit in stop-and-go traffic or “slow down on wet pavement” when it rains. Duh. These added signs have got to cost in the millions. Again, if state benefits to exceed the state’s match, this is not a deal for Michigan citizens.
About a year ago, I asked MDOT about the cost of replacing perfectly good Big Green Signs with brand new Big Green Signs and upgrading the plain old mile marker signs from “Mile 123” to “North I-75 Mile 123.0” and “North I-75 Mile 123.2” and so on, but got no response. When I complained to my state representative that MDOT didn’t answer, they told me to file a Freedom of Information Request. Doesn’t the legislature know how much the state departments are paying for things? Doesn’t the legislature know where they’re getting their money for such programs? Isn’t the legislature supposed to provide oversight? Don’t they care?
Seems like government isn’t “by the people” or “for the people” anymore. Like the Free Press says to the governor and the legislature: “Suck it up, make some decisions.” I’m stuck with you until the next election, but you can bet I won’t be voting for a single incumbant. If I wanted worthless, spineless windbags, I’d tune in to reality TV or shows like Jerry Springer. In the meantime, tell them to get the job done!