May 17, 2007
The goal of any good reporter is to break down a complex story or issue into its simplest terms that’s readable and understandable to the majority of readers. The state budget is not only a big challenge to lawmakers and the governor, but it’s also a challenge to reporters and bloggers to make sense of this complex story that’s changing every day.
To break it down to its simplest terms, it seems to me that the leader of one body refuses to compromise with two other. It just seems that common sense says if two parties are in agreement then the third should be in the minority, but unfortunately, it’s not nearly that simple.
Apparently, after a busy day in Lansing Wednesday, stalled talks on the state's $700 million budget deficit. The majority Floor Leaser, Mike Bishop, has emerged as the biggest obstruction to a compromise as the House and Senate conference committee try to reach a compromise on the two budget bills.
To recap, after the governor put her plan to balance the budget out to the public, and she endured daily attacks from groups and people not wanting to see their programs cut and criteria from a reasonable proposal for a 2-penny tax that will cost the average family $1.33 a week. Bishop and the GOP-controlled Senate rejected that plan without a plan of their own in place. When they finally came up with one, they kept it so secret that only GOP members of the Appropriations Committee were allowed to see the full proposal, and even then they were told not to write any of it down to keep it as confidential and away from the public as much as possible.
A month later, Bishop sprang it on the public on a Thursday evening when most people had already left Lansing. The 38-page document was rushed through committee and then right to the Senate floor to be passed an hour later with no one even having the time to read it let alone understand the ramifications of the irresponsible cuts.
Since then, the public has repeatedly told us they do not want such deep cuts, and they would be willing to pay an extra tax to avoid some of the deep cuts. The Governor and Speaker of the House, Rep. Andy Dillon, have compromised on the cuts, but Bishop absolutely refuses to compromise on revenue. Perhaps he should learn the meaning of the word compromise.
On Wednesday, the Senate Republicans threw another roadblock to a compromise with the passage of SB 436 and 437 that makes even deeper cuts into money for local police, fire and other local services. The bill cut $16 million from revenue sharing with local governments and reduced a variety of Medicaid, mental health and community health programs, community college spending and a long list of other programs.
But perhaps the most painful cut that will cause the most long-range pain is the $290 million from the 21st Century Jobs Fund. The 21st Century Jobs Fund – part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – that was created with strong bipartisan support to stimulate and diversify our economy.
Senate Democratic Leader Mark Schauer of Battle Creek summed it up best when he called the two measures "irresponsible and reckless. They put the state at risk and mortgage the future."
Just to be fair and nonpartisan, I also agree with this quote from a Senator on the other side of the aisle.
State Sen. Roger N. Kahn, a Saginaw Township Republican, said the pending Medicaid reductions are "offensive" and "illegal."
"Those who would vote for those kinds of cuts are, in my opinion, trying to extort money from hospitals and (engage in) blackmail," the cardiologist said. Then we have Sen. Tom George, R-Kalamazoo, also a doctor, blaming the governor for the bad health of Medicaid recipients and because they smoke and drink on the Senate floor.
It makes you wonder what Bishop’s motives are, and if he, for some political reason, wants state government too shut down. It seems similar to how Newt Gingrich did to the federal government.
Did the Governor snub Bishop on a flight somewhere?