Mar 20, 2007

GOP budget plan still secret even after meeting

The Republican spin doctors are going at it full time trying to defend Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s decision to stand up the Governor on Monday to talk about balancing the current budget with an estimated $900 million shortfall.

Last month the Senate Appropriations Committee, controlled by Republicans, rejected the Governor’s Executive Order that would have balanced the budget with a mix of cuts and a 2-penny tax on services that would have cost the average family less than the price of a cup of coffee a week. Of course, the Republicans did not have a plan of their own, and for the past month they have been teasing us by telling they have a plan that will balance this budget with cuts and one-time budget gimmicks alone. However, this alleged Top Secret plan is a bigger secret than the Manhattan Project.

Our own Sen. Valde Garcia (R-Howell) – a member of the Appropriations committee who could have been in on the negotiations on Monday representing Bishop - defended Bishop’s absence in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, yet all we hear is how urgent the budget is. Bishop actually had the nerved to say this after not being able to find the time Monday to meet with the Governor: The budget should have been fixed "yesterday.”

Garcia said "it bothers me immensely" that two months have passed since the projected $900 million budget deficit came to light and there has been no resolution.

Me too, so why are you dragging your feet and refuse to even disclose let along revel your alleged plan?

The good news is they met on Tuesday, but Bishop’s plan is still secret. I, and everyone else, suspected this was Bishop playing politics all along, and the Republicans confirmed that today. The Governor has been battered in the press, by special interest groups and citizens for the cuts she is proposing, and all because she had the backbone to be up front about the difficult choices and be a leader to let residents what will be cut. Legislative offices in Lansing – including the one I work in – have been flooded with emails, letters and phone calls urging Legislators not to cut MSU Extension, Education, Libraries, and funding for the arts and every other proposed department and area in the budget.

Bishop has taken extraordinary measures to keep the public from knowing what he plans to cut until the last minute to avid any criticism or responsibility. Those measures have included not allowing staffers and Legislators to write any of the plan down to keep it as secret as possible. The Governor plans to propose another EO Thursday to balance the budget, and it will. Give Bishop and his cronies further cover from responsibility and criticism.

Subscription only Gongwer reported the meeting today between the Governor, Bishop and House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) lasted five hours.

Unclear from the discussions was whether Mr. Bishop turned over all the details of the Senate Republican budget proposal.
Republicans have insisted that Democrats, including Budget Director Bob Emerson, had been given the details of the proposal, and Democrats just as stridently have said they have not. A Senate Republican official on Tuesday acknowledged that written copies of the proposal had not been given Democrats, at least partially out of concern that it would get public and generate criticism.

Those bad old Democrats cannot be trusted with a secret. They have this ridiculous notion of open government and not keeping secrets from the public.

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