Opinion By R. Al Bain
After watching our new Governor’s State of the State address there may be reason for concern. Rather than talking about specifics on our economy here in Michigan and reducing the size and scope of government, Mr. Snyder talked of reinventing failed programs and entities. He stated that picking winners and losers in the business community would be a thing of the past.
Then in the very next breath he stated that the Pure Michigan advertising campaign would receive 25 million annually. The private tourism industry should be funding this not the taxpayers! If the information he was provided was true about the 2 for 1 return on our dollars for the “Pure Michigan Ad campaign” wouldn’t you think that the private tourism industry would be flocking to fund this?
As my new friend Barry stated if 2 for 1 is true let’s put $900 million into Pure Michigan and that $1.8 billion shortfall is all gone! The tourism industry didn’t believe advertising was something it wanted to pay for. The Pure Michigan campaign should be paid for by the people it directly benefits, the tourism industry.
Without exception, representatives from a variety of tourism industry segments indicated their Members and or Boards would strongly oppose such an approach. But its OK that we the taxpayers can fund it for their benefit! He also talked about the MEDC and the 21st Century Jobs Fund that have both been complete and total failures and a waste of taxpayer monies.
The 21st Century Jobs Fund has been nothing more than a private piggy bank for the legislators to rob from. One of Granholms last public acts she signed into law from the lame duck session was legislation that robbed 10 million taxpayer dollars from the failed 21st Century Jobs Fund to fund the Pure Michigan Advertising Campaign. I’m afraid that we may be facing another 4 or heaven forbid 8 more years of the failed Granholm policies!
Watch what legislators do, not what they say
Voters should not take for granted that any lawmaker, once elected, will automatically do what he or she was elected to do. The reasons for this are many, but let me illustrate the situation with a statement made in a radio interview by the Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, the new Senate majority leader. When asked about a right-to-work law, which would prohibit employers from firing workers who do not support a union, he said he did not “see it as being a top priority” this year. He added that a right-to-work law “… seems to me to be more disruptive with little positive results,” and that it “… could possibly reduce the strength of our workforce.” Those were just words, and we have to judge a lawmaker more on what he does than what he says. But I bet a lot of voters who elected the new Senate Republican supermajority will be unhappy to learn that the man who decides which bills come to the floor for a vote has already effectively nixed a labor reform adopted by 22 other states, all of which are outperforming Michigan. The problem is that the majority who voted for him were Union Democrats!
Legislature´s tiny pay cut still a screw up
Starting in 2011, more than 10 years after letting slide the now legendary 38 percent pay hike, members of the state’s full-time legislative branch will be paid $71,685 a year, a 10 percent cut from $79,650. Once upon a time, legislators made $56,981 a year. That’s still a 2 percent raise every year since 2000. Instead of being the country’s second highest paid lawmakers, they’ll be the fourth. The old-time senators still got to factor the $79,650-a-year rates into their final pension calculation, which is what the whole pay raise was all about in the first place. A 10 percent cut is far too little, far too late. Since Jan. 31, 2001, lawmakers have bumbled around with a convoluted constitutional amendment that slightly changed the pay-setting process. Any lawmaker elected this year will still get paid more than your average mechanical engineer, financial controller or construction manager. Meanwhile, the book is far from closed on the long-term damage the 38 percent pay hike caused the Legislature. The unicameral movement isn’t dead. The drumbeat for a part-time body hasn’t been louder.
House plan would extend careers of most Lansing politicians from 6 to 14 years
Considering the state of our state, I would expect a total focus on budgetary and tax issues. This doesn’t seem to be the case! The new Michigan Legislature was sworn into office Jan. 12. The next day, they were at work on a proposal that could greatly extend the years that most of them are able to spend in Lansing. It would appear that these folks have their heads where the sun don’t shine, but with their eyes on things like pensions and healthcare for themselves and family. A part-time legislature is not only appropriate but absolutely critical.I guess the Tea Party failed in informing the Lawmakers that we wanted less not more invasive Government. Looks like another message will have to be sent in 2012.
Taxpayer Money Pay Movie Stars Salaries from Film Producers Subsidy
Nearly a quarter of the tax breaks that were given out under Massachusetts’ film tax credit program have gone to fund payments to Hollywood movie stars. A recent report by the Department of Revenue found that $82 million of the $330 million program went to actors’ salaries in 2009, many of whom earned in excess of $1 million for their work. I wonder if the same thing is taking place with Michigan’s Film Producers Subsidy? Several states are now rethinking this subsidy and eliminating it entirely and Michigan should follow their lead!
Government Lobbying on the Rise: Using Taxes To Lobby for Taxes
Government entities in Genesee County have increased spending on lobbyists 76 percent, according to an analysis by The Flint Journal. Jack McHugh, the Center’s senior legislative analyst, told The Journal that the process is a vicious cycle, with tax-funded lobbying for more tax dollars leading to “spending more than government has available.” Diane S. Katz, an adjunct scholar with the Center, wrote about this problem almost three years ago in a commentary titled “Using Taxes to Lobby for Taxes.”
Michigan Court Ruling on Privacy may Hurt Public’s right to know
In one of the last acts of its short-lived Democratic majority, the Michigan Supreme Court did some potential damage to the public’s right to know, in a ruling about the privacy of what public employees do on public time with publicly provided communications systems.
Ex.Gov. John Engler wants Rick Snyder to tie one on, “Needles” Richardville
That no-tie thing with Gov. Rick Snyder doesn’t sit well with one of his predecessors, Gov. John Engler. Engler, who almost always wore a suit and tie at work, reportedly thinks Snyder’s casual business attire is an affront to the governor’s office. Engler was a suit-and-tie honored guest at Snyder’s inauguration Jan. 1. So was new Senate Republican Majority Leader Randy Richardville , who wore a suit and vest with no tie at the ceremony. (Snyder wore a red tie.) John Engler made an offer to new Senate Majority leader Randy Richardville (Monroe) at Rick Snyder’s inaugural by telling him he had an extra tie he could borrow! He didn’t wear one!
State Has Billions in Unbudgeted Retiree Costs
Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm told the MIRS news agency she was handing over a balanced state budget that even had a surplus. But one watchdog accounting agency is saying Granholm is ignoring $50.1 billion the state owes to its workers, mostly for retiree pensions and health care. This is happening in local communities as well! As I previously reported in a past “Bain Report” that with the Monroe County Commissioners robbing of the pension fund as a way to balance budgets will come back to haunt them and the taxpayers big time!
What Snyder may try to Cut in Reinvent Michigan’s Government
Ideas on how to reinvent Michigan’s government as Gov. Rick Snyder has said that the state is beyond mere fixing have been popping around Lansing the past few weeks. Come Oct. 1, the state no longer can count on hundreds of millions in federal stimulus money to help fill the gap between revenue and spending. Republicans, who control the Legislature, and Snyder, also a Republican, have made it clear that they don’t intend to ask residents to pay higher taxes with the exception of Senate Majority leader Randy Richardville who said nothing is off the table when asked about a tax increase! Proposed cuts or elimination in the following, The Michigan Business Tax, Tap the School Aid Fund, Tax loopholes/credits, State Police road patrols, Pay/benefits for state workers, Revenue-sharing to cities, villages and townships, Medicaid benefits, Prison system, and Consolidating services. Click the link below for details on each proposal.
Steelcase to shut three plants one near Grand Rapids
Office furniture maker Steelcase said Wednesday it is cutting 750 jobs as it shutters three manufacturing plants in North America, including one near Grand Rapids.
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny”
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