Feb 2, 2007

Republican’s shortsighted budget solution costs taxpayers millions

In the face of the Michigan Senate Republican’s proposed replacement to the Single Business Tax that cuts $300 million from a budget that’s expected to have an $800 million shortfall in the current budget year along, the Associated Press is reporting Michigan families have seen their state tax bills decrease by as much as a fourth.

Despite Republicans pushing the myth that Michigan is a high tax state, the AP reports “After 15 years of tax cuts, including drops in property and income tax rates, Michigan families have seen their state tax bills decrease by as much as a fourth, according to an Associated Press computer analysis.”

Gov. Jennifer Granholm plans to layout a plan to keep the services and infrastructure that really attract and retain businesses and companies to Michigan, and at the same time still keep us competitive with other states over tax rates in her State of the State address Tuesday.

The Republicans have not officially grown enough backbone to tell voters what they plan to cut to balance the budget with that huge loss of revenue, but Livingston County’s Legislative delegation 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. Rep. Chris Ward took the shortsighted view that programs that allow prisoners to earn high school diplomas while incarcerated may be cut. This is typical of that shortsighted view the Republicans take to any problem.

It would be much cheaper and more humane to let a senior citizen spend their last days in the familiar surroundings in their own homes with the occasional help of an in-care provider, but Ward refuses to see that.

Just today the Livingston County Sheriff declared an overcrowding emergency at the county jail because it has been over capacity for 25 straight days. It’s Republican policies that ensures released non-violent offenders are not going to have the skills they need once they are released to make it on the outside, and they will be back. It costs an enormous amount of money to house and feed 51,000 Michigan prisoners.

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice found Michigan’s incarceration rates were the 2nd highest in the 12-state Midwest region, and our rate is the 11th highest in the nation, according to an excellent report in the February newsletter of the Gray Panthers of Huron Valley.

We spend more money on Michigan prisons, $1.9 million, than the $1.6 million we spend on our 13 public universities.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan said the state’s incarceration rate is 40 percent higher than those of otter states, due to longer sentences and lower parole rates. Michigan is spending millions to hold, feed and house thousands of low-risk, non-violent inmates instead of looking for inexpensive ways to ensure their success on the outside or other alternative forms of punishment.


Kathy said...

I have a better suggestion for Garcia - maybe the state should eliminate all elected official's pensions in order to save money. Companies across the nation are changing or dumping pension programs so it just makes sense.

Does he have any idea how important in-home care is? Does he have elderly parents or grandparents? Well, I do. My mother is in her late 80's and she has Alzheimer's. Fortunately, my sister and her husband have been able to keep her in their home for the last 16 years, but it hasn't been easy. If it wasn't for the assistance of aides who came in from time to time to help out, I'm sure we would have had to put my mother in a nursing home by now.

I'd like to tell Mr. Garcia about my mother. She worked in one of the Ford plants during WWII on a line that made bomber planes. After the war, she married my father (who had served in the Navy) and started a family. My mother has worked since she was 16 years old, and she continued to work part-time after she married because my father developed heart disease. He finally succumbed to his illness before the age of 55, and my mother was on her own with very little savings and no health insurance. They never had the time to accumulate much money because my father's employment was erratic due to his hospitalizations and they were too busy educating us and paying off their house in Detroit. My dad wanted that house paid so my mother would always have a roof over her head in case anything happened to him.

Well, long story short, my mother outlived her money. The woman worked her entire life and helped her country. She played by the rules and paid her bills. Now, at the end of her life, she is penniless except for the small amount of social security she gets and the help she receives from Medicaid and family.

I guess Mr. Garcia would prefer to see someone like my mother die because she costs the taxpayers some money, huh? I suggest he visit a nursing home someday and look into the eyes of our senior citizens. They may look like they don't contribute much to society now, but they were all taxpayers once too.

Communications guru said...

Thank you for your comments, Kathy. A touching, personal testimony like yours really illustrates how important in home health care really is.

I really don’t know a lot about in-home health care aides, but I know it’s not someone who is there full-time, just a helping hand to allow seniors to live in their homes. The homes they spent a lifetime paying for, improving and raising their children and grandchildren in.

I must admit I know little about Legislators pension plans. Although I do vaguely remember Mike Rogers holding onto his Michigan Senate seat for as long as he could after he was elected to Congress for pension purposes. Can someone out there tell me how the plan works?

Anonymous said...

The state's "incarnation" rate?

Communications guru said...

Thank you for pointing out that mistake, who-ever-you-are.