Proposal Deserves Bi-Partisan Consideration

June 13, 2005
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Michigan House of Representatives Appropriations Committee members are to be congratulated on the paradigm busting, hard work to approve a $39.7 billion state budget, without raising taxes and not only maintaining — but increasing — constitutional revenue sharing for the first time in Gov. Jennifer Granholm's tenure.

The governor held public meetings across the state to determine constituent priorities, and the Republican-controlled appropriations committee listened. Constituents clearly indicated, "No new taxes," and prioritized state revenue sharing as the No. 1 concern. The committee responded, and is, so far, the model upon which the State Senate should offer its proposal.

The budget plan also provides a $175 increase in K-12 per pupil grants — a stunning accomplishment and one the citizens of this state have indicated they would applaud. Committee members used the approach outlined in "The Price of Government," a book that is changing government spending plans across the country. It's a philosophy Granholm and Democrats have given lip service to espousing but refuse to work at.

That not one Appropriations Committee Democrat voted for the funding proposal is a sure sign of partisan politics and the continuation of a political quagmire that goes so far as to put this state in deeper debt (with the governor's $2 billion bond proposal to "create" jobs in the life sciences and technology sectors, one wonders when government ever "created" jobs other than for the bureaubrats).

Democrats who are feigning indignation over the cuts are hung up on the fact that Michigan is the only state so beneficent with its social services/Medicaid tax money. Rep. Jerry Kooiman, Speaker Pro Tempore and Appropriations Committee member, notes that no state along Michigan borders is so benevolent, and that these other states have far greater success rates in moving recipients from taxpayer-supported programs to self-support. He notes that recipients from neighboring states move to Michigan for the benefits. He also notes that Michigan's social services budget carries a load in providing services to pregnant women deliberately brought to Michigan from foreign countries by relatives here, specifically for its benefit program. A shocking 25 percent of the $100 million program is spent on administrative costs. Kooiman suggests moving just 12 percent of those costs into the home- and community-based waiver program. But Democrats are railing at the "heartless" cuts for "recipients," refusing to give notice to the bureaucrats on staff.

The House budget proposal also would cut Michigan Economic Development Corp. funds, a program Kooiman notes employs 190, with 20 executive vice presidents earning $150,000 or more.

Kooiman and his fellows deserve bi-partisan cooperation for their deliberate and constituent-based work on the budget proposal. No one could ask for more.    

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