Jan 19, 2011

First SOS will be another pep talk filled with platitude and no details

Like his campaign and his inaugural speech, new Michigan Gov. Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder’s first State of the State address tonight will be void of any details.

Like the AP said, “Michigan teachers, state workers, business groups and others eager to hear what new Gov. Rick Snyder plans to do are waiting for his first State of the State address” will get a pep talk filled with more buzz words and platitudes like “shared sacrifice” and he will “reinvent Michigan,” but no details, as usual, on how he will do that.

The press has let him get away with it since the last Superbowl when he launched his campaign, but I think their patients may be getting a little thin and want some actual details and answers on how he plans to reinvent Michigan. We already have an idea what "shared sacrifice" means to Snyder: state workers sacrifice but Snyder and his upper management sacrifice nothing.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference took place last Friday, and according to the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, “a slowly improving economy in the state and nationally will lead to increased revenue, but the loss of ARRA funding and one time revenue sources combined with revenue lost due to tax policy is expected to lead to a General Fund budget deficit of $1.8 billion.”

The only plan we have ever heard from Snyder on how to balance the budget is that he plans to make it up on backs of state workers alone, and a pair of Republican Senators have crystalized that plan.

Sens. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, and Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Twp., told subscription only Gongwer that “they have a plan that solves the state's $1.8 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget deficit without raising a dime of taxes.” Their grand plan includes “saving more than $700 million from employee benefit cuts and $1 billion from a 5-percent public employee pay cut.” Never mind that it takes a Constitutional amendment for some parts of the plan, or that it violates the collective bargaining rights.

Now, here is Snyder’s sacrifice. We already knew that Snyder appointed Michael Finney as president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation a few weeks ago. Finney will be paid $250,000 a year, and he will also receive deferred compensation equal to 18 percent of his salary in lieu of a retirement plan. The person who held the job under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and was only paid $200,000 a year. After pressure from the media, Snyder finally released the salaries of his cabinet members, and of the 12 members of his cabinet he's appointed Snyder has given raises to five. The rest make what they were making under Granholm.

John Nixon, the new director for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) imported from Utah, will join Finney as the highest-paid officials in state government.

Just to make sure the middle class is not the only ones hurting and sacrificing, Republicans plan to go after the working poor too. The new Speaker of the House, Rep. James Bolger, R- Marshall, want to go after the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

The EITC is an effective anti-poverty tool in the form of a refundable tax credit given to working families. People apply for it when they fill out their state income tax forms. The tax credit, in its third year of existence, will pump over $1.50 back into the economy for every $1 that is sent to working families.

So much for shared sacrifices; enjoy the show tonight.

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