Amazing that now that the "Budget Crisis" in Lansing is over, we never heard what the solution was. Reason is that the issue was not addressed. SIMPLE: WE CAN'T AFFORD THE GOVERNMENT WE HAVE. Instead of restructuring our bloated bureaucracies, the solution was to do some fancy bookkeeping. Borrowing money from Education funds and selling tobacco settlement payments? This rates right up there with increasing revenue by having a one-time license fee for trailers. These are just revenue timing adjustments. How is this going to help in the coming years?
Our state government has continually grown over the years. State employee pensions and health benefits are much higher than those in the public sector. Benefit plans were designed to match the local auto industry. Over the past number of years the auto industry has struggled and has had to lower these benefits. The public sector has not, even though a lion's share of the taxes comes from these firms and their employees. Discussions are only on increasing revenues through additional taxes. Are businesses leaving the state because they are not taxed enough? Hardly.
While our state's economy is restructuring we need to restructure the public sector as well. Redundancies must be eliminated and compensation levels must be brought in line with those of other states and the private sector. We need good, talented people to serve in the various agencies of state government; but we have to be able to pay for them with the revenue we already have or can get during the current period. We can't constantly mortgage the future. Only 8 years ago our state's coffers had a surplus. This surplus has been eaten and we are now manipulating accounts to cover the coming months' costs. It is certain next year the discussions on meeting the budget shortfalls will happen again. This time, be prepared to dig deeper into your pockets.
Let's contact our governor and legislators to let them know the need for real lasting reform!
John Schlaack, Lapeer County Republican Party Editorial Committe
June 20, 2007