Cynical Synapse

Sun, 12 Jul 2009

Michigan’s Budget Dance More Like Voodoo Dance

Filed under: Bailout, Budget, Business, Economy, Government, Michigan, Politics, Rants, Take action — cynicalsynapse @ 4:56 pm

The budget dance is in full swing here in Michigan, even as legislators plan their summer vacations. Gov. Granholm presented her proposals in February, but the State House and Senate are just getting around to them. Those three need to come to agreement on closing the expected $2.1 billion shortfall or Michigan could see a government shutdown like in 2007. I’m sorry, but Michigan’s state legislature is the second highest paid state legislature in the country, and one of only 11 full-time state legislatures. Their primary job is the budget. So, how are they doing?

Not so well, I’m afraid. The House and Senate have considered 8 appropriations bills for 2009-2010 and each has ended up being referred to conference to settle the differences. In every case, when the bill went from one chamber to the other, it got changed enough so the iniating chamber found the revisions unacceptable. What’s a little more disconcerting, however, is the votes are almost exclusively along party lines. That can’t be a good thing.

Bill Budget 1st Vote 2nd Vote
S.245 General government 16 20 64  1
S.248 Human Services  1 20    
S.250 Military & Veterans Affairs  1 19 54 13
H.4435 Community colleges 67 20 16 20
H.4436 Community Health 64  1  1 19
H.4437 Corrections 63  1 19
H.4441 Higher education 67 23 16
H.4446 Natural Resources 67 43 20
H.4447 School aid 67 40 19

Michigan’s Senate has 16 Democrats and 21 Republicans while the House is split 67 Democrats to 43 Republicans. The table at right shows a breakdown of votes in favor for the respective versions of the budget bills. The first vote is in the chamber initiating the bill and the second vote is after the other chamber made its changes.

General government, in S.245, includes the Attorney General, Civil Rights, Executive Office, Information Technology, Legislature, Legislative Auditor General, Management and Budget, State, Treasury, and the Michigan Strategic Fund. The legislators haven’t tackled the State Police appropriation yet.

Funding for Executive Senate House
General government   $2.976 billion $3.081 billion
Human Services   $5.837 billion
Military and Veterans Affairs $0.149 billion $0.149 billion $0.146 billion
Community colleges $0.299 billion $0.296 billion $0.396 billion
Community Health $12.967 billion $12.859 billion $13.481 billion
Corrections $1.958 billion $1.930 billion $1.958 billion
Higher education   $1.826 billion $1.609 billion
Natural Resources   $0.624 billion $0.626 billion
School aid $12.964 billion $12.743 billion $13.132 billion

Here’s what we do know as legislators enjoy their summer vacation. The proposed appropriations are significantly different from the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

So, things are not looking so great right now. Can they be fixed in the next 2-1/2 months? I’m not so sure. With a Democrat-controlled State House and Governor’s Office, with a Republican-controlled State Senate, I’ll be surprised if there’s a state budget by October 1st. The current partisan voting record just serves to reinforce that perspective. Does anyone remember the Michigan government shutdown of 2007?

Write, phone, or email your state representative and state senator. Tell them to do their dang jobs; they are, after all, the second highest paid state legislature. Be sure to let them know what your priorities are for Michigan’s budget. Keep in mind, stuff either needs to get cut, revenues need to go up, or a combination of each.

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