Monday, February 14, 2011

Lt. Gov. Calley's "Callous" Comments on the BUDGET

State Budget Proposal to be presented Thursday!
In Saturday’s LANSING STATE JOURNAL, a staff writer named Scott Davis wrote, “Pack a flashlight. Stock up on food. Map a route to a shelter.” He was referring to Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s announcement last week that an “atomic bomb” was going to hit Lansing this coming Thursday when Governor Rick Snyder shares his proposed budget.

Michigan’s new state budget director, John Nixon, has confirmed that the budget will “include substantial cuts” in every area of state government. It appears that there will be a $1.8 billion short fall this year. Although Nixon did not confirm this information, the Lansing State Journal is predicting the following areas will be affected.

1) Corrections – It accounts for 23 percent of the state’s general fund.

2) Employee Wages – According to the House Fiscal Agency, wages and benefits for state employees totals $4.8 billion. (In recent years state employees have take wage freezes, furlough days and health benefit cuts)

3) Community Health Programs – funding for vaccinations, county-run clinics, preventative health programs and most Medicaid costs – currently cost $2.4 billion. However, Medicaid may not be able to be cut because it would mean losing matching dollars from the federal government.

4) Higher Education – Snyder indicated in the past that Higher Ed’s $1.5 billion budget seemed “rife” for cost savings.

5) State Revenue Sharing – Two-thirds of this program’s budget for cities and townships is protected by the State constitution. But one-third of their $1 billion budget could be cut
6) Business Tax Reform – Snyder wants to ditch the current business tax (MBT) and replace it with a 6% corporate income tax. This could reduce revenues by $1.5 billion dollars. The Lansing State Journal reports that Snyder has hinted that he wants to reduce about $2.6 billion in tax credits and exemptions. Between these two moves, the savings would be $1.1 billion and would be a big help in reducing the State’s shortfall in revenues.

The MEA calls Lt. Gov. Calley’s metaphor for Thursday’s budget proposal “callous and reckless” . The MEA points out that his usage of the message “dropping an atomic bomb on the city of Lansing” as being in complete contrast to Gov. Snyder’s calls for bipartisanship and responsible budget solutions. Frank Houston, campaign director for A Better Michigan Future (a coalition of organizations including the MEA) was quoted in the MEA’s Capital Comments on Monday, saying, “Michigan families throughout the state are already struggling to make ends meet, and Lt. Gov Calley’s slash-and-burn rhetoric is not helpful at all in calming the real anxieties our families already experience every day.”