Feb 6, 2007
Gov. Jennifer Granholm laid out a clear choice for those who care about Michigan and want to see it thrive now and in the future in her annual State of the State Address tonight by challenging us to “invest in our people so they and their children can compete and win in the new world economy? Will we invest in our people so they can build great lives here in Michigan? Will we? Or will we fail them?”
The hour-long speech was powerful, and it had a mix of setting the record straight, bringing home the reality of the dire budget situation we face and leaving us with a positive feeling that we can accomplish improving our state. So much for the alleged pundits who say the State-of-the-State address is nothing but more “little miss sunshine” from the Governor.
The governor made a clear case that we cannot fix our structural budget problem, attract quality jobs and businesses here and grow and diversify the economy with just more of the 15 straight years of tax cuts and cuts and elimination of the very things that attract people to Michigan and make this a great state. It will take spending cuts, reforms and new revue to fix the problem and move us forward.
Since taking office in 2002, the Governor has resolved more than $4 billion in budget deficits, and she has cut more in government spending than any governor in Michigan history. There are less state employees now than in 1973 despite more than a million more residents living in the state. Cutting much more will negate the reason people and companies come here because quality of life not low taxes is the reason people move and live here. Like Bill Gates said, “21st century businesses are "…far more sensitive to the quality of talent in a location than they are about tax incentives."
“Government must be lean but not mean,” the Governor said. “So in state government, we are redoubling our efforts to root out inefficiencies and do more with less.”
The Governor pointed out that the neighboring Midwest states of Minnesota and Wisconsin have low unemployment rates but higher taxes. Obviously, simply cutting taxes is not the answer; investing on our people and our state is.
The Governor also proposed a lot of ambitious but common sense projects and programs, but to me the budget, jobs and diversifying the economy is the big push.
In contrast to the last Legislature that did virtually nothing, the Governor challenged this one to put partisanship aside and address the problems. She faces an uphill battle.
“Forget Democrat or Republican. Forget political parties, the Governor said. “The choice we face right now in Michigan is not right or left. It is to advance or retreat. I say advance, and I ask you to advance with me.
“The choice is to take this hard and stubborn economy head-on and push forward with confidence and courage, or to be sucked backwards on a path of failure and fear,” she said. “I say let us push forward together. “
But it was easy to see where the Republicans were sitting in the House chamber. They sat on their hands and refused to even clap, and they displayed a disgraceful lack of respect.
The Republican response from Sen. Tom George, R-Kalamazoo, was sad. The obvious questions were where was the new Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Mike Bishop, and could they have found someone more stiff.
His continued call for action was ridiculous. At least it was refreshing to see the Republicans finally recognize and admit the budget is facing a crisis. But challenging the Governor to take action when for the last two years the Republican-controlled Legislature has virtually done nothing was insulting and ridiculous. Where were you when your party controlled both Houses, Senator?
He even talked about addressing out-of-state and Canadian trash with something called the “Waste not Plan.” This has been a problem for at least six years, why address it now, Senator?
His constant phrase “Senate Republicans” reminded me of a recent Presidential debate where one candidate continually used the phrase “it’s hard work.”
The only good thing that could come from the Republican response is it will make a good drinking game. Every time you hear the phrase “Senate Republicans” you drink a shot. That may help you forget the pain and suffering the misguided plan the Republicans have proposed will cause.