Cynical Synapse

Sun, 27 Sep 2009

D Minus 2: Michigan Shutdown Imminent

Filed under: Budget, Economy, Government, Michigan, Politics, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 3:04 pm

What’s wrong with this picture? Give up? The Michigan House of Representatives is empty! You see, the Michigan Legislature canceled today’s Sunday session. The House doesn’t reconvene until Tuesday. A quick check of the calendar tells me Tuesday is September 29th, giving the legislature just two days to resolve budget differences. Without a budget, or continuation law, Michigan state government will shut down again at 12:01 AM on October 1st.

Michigan’s Republican-controlled Senate passed balanced budget bills in June. As evidenced by taking today and tomorrow off, the Democratic House still doesn’t have any sense of urgency! What is their major malfunction? Speaker Andy Dillon says Michigan politics is dysfunctional. The only solution the Redford Democrat has is to roll over and agree to Republican cuts. The Senate’s balanced budget relies on cuts to programs like school aid, Promise grants for college education, veterans and National Guard, and Medicaid.

After taking most of the summer off, the Democratic House has managed to work on some areas of the budget. In the last week or so, they’ve passed joint conference versions of appropriations for agriculture, community colleges, Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth (DELEG), and the judiciary. In the meantime, the Senate has also passed agriculture, DELEG, military and veterans affairs, and judiciary. Out of conference and pending in the house is the school aid bill. Great work, you guys. Why not take a couple days off?

Not to sound like Chicken Little or anything, but the budget heavy-lifting still remains to get done. In 2 days, no less. It’s more likely I’ll win the Mega-Millions lottery. But then, what good would that be? There won’t be anyone in the lottery office to give me the prize. So, what’s left to work out? Community health, corrections, state police, human services, general government, and a couple small ones like environmental quality and natural resources.

Since I’m thinking the legislature won’t settle on a budget before Thursday, maybe the House work on that government continuation bill the Senate passed. It’s got the same kinds of cuts in it as their balanced budget bills did. At least folks would be able to still get their license plate tabs and food stamps while the inept representatives get the budget resolved. Did I mention Michigan’s legislature is the second-highest paid in the country? Waiting to the last minute like this seems pretty reckless, especially since Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) has not telegraphed any change from not signing a budget without Promise grants.

Bill Rustem summarized Michigan’s budget fiasco succinctly. The CEO of Public Sector Consultants said:

It’s the same thing that happened in 2007. The game has become more important than the results. Having an issue has become more important than having a solution. That’s not the way democracy was designed to work.

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