Jan 29, 2007
Livingston County’s Michigan Congressional delegation has again taken an irresponsible stand, and their answer to the expected $300 billon budget shortfall is less revenue and cutting taxes again.
Last summer, Sen. Valde Garcia and Reps. Chris Ward and Joe Hune took the irresponsible step of eliminating the Single Business Tax (SBT) without a replacement on the horizon. Today the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported the three fearless leaders are in lockstep with the ridiculous and irresponsible Republican proposal for replacing the SBT that cuts revenue by $300 million. Michigan has cut taxes continuously in both good times and bad times, and taxes have been cut 30 times since 1993. Michigan has less state government employees now than in 1973, and our population has increased by almost two million people over that same span.
If our alleged leaders think we are going to win the race to the bottom they are wrong. It will never happen. There is no way we can compete with Communist China and others that pay slave wages and provide no, or very few, services. A pair of tax studies last summer illustrated quality of life, such as good schools, cultural opportunities and low crime attract businesses, not low taxes. We are competitive in taxes with other states, and now the Republicans want to cut the essential services that attract business here.
Luckily, a group of business people, local government leaders and educational leaders who will be most effected by the cuts that will be required if the Republican proposals go forward have formed a group called Michigan Fiscal Responsibility Project. Many members said the state's business climate would be better off with a tax increase than in its current dismal state, according to a recent story in the subscription only MIRS.
"Enough is enough," said East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh. "Local governments alone have absorbed more than $2 billion in cuts. Businesses relocate because of what local governments can offer - the infrastructure and quality of workforce - and (if there are more cuts) we won't be able to support businesses and get out of an economic downturn."
At least the Republications have finally identified where they want to cut the more than $300 billon in investments from the state: schools, Medicaid and shared-revenue payments to communities
Experts said the cuts in education will hurt in both the long and short run. Not only will the state not be able to keep up with competition, but with continuous cuts to higher education, our graduates won't measure up to their competition, which isn't just national - it's global, said Mike Boulus, director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, which represents the state's public universities.
Lower reimbursements for Medicaid, which one out of seven Michigan residents rely on for health insurance, have in part led to 46 hospital closings in a handful of years, said David Finkbeiner, spokesperson for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.
In lieu of a full shutdown many more hospitals have had to cut programs and services.
An example of what that means for one population: after the local hospital closed its labor and delivery wing expecting mothers in Manistee County now have to drive 60 to 70 miles each way to deliver a baby.
Kay Hoffman, president of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, said that there are 1,600 fewer police officers in Michigan than there were five years ago.
Garcia said lowering taxes now would generate greater revenue down the road because of the stimulating effect on the economy. "We're talking about making an investment in the future," he said.
That’s simply not true, and that’s exactly what taxes are; an investment in the future.
As studies have shown, Michigan is in the middle of the pack for tax burden, it’s very competitive with other states and services are more of a factor than taxes in keeping and attracting businesses to Michigan. But that doesn’t convince Hune.
"You can't tax yourself into prosperity," he said. You also can’t cut yourself into prosperity either.
Ward said Medicare services not mandated by the federal government, such as in-home care and certain prescription drug programs could be possible targets for reductions. Also, programs that allow prisoners to earn high school diplomas while incarcerated may be cut, he said.
He ignores, of course, the fact, that it’s much cheaper for a senior citizen to stay in their own homes with a little assistance than live out their last days in an expensive and strange nursing home. That’s not even mentioning it’s more humane to allow them to spend their days in their own homes. I’ll have to check his campaign finance report for contributions from the nursing home industry. It costs us much more in tax dollars to house and feed prisoners than giving them a basic education to help ensure they do not come back to prison once they are released.
Again, it just amazes me that Republicans want a free ride, and they refuse to invest or pay for any of the great services the government provides that they use every single day.