It’s no secret that Michigan’s economy is in big trouble. We lead the nation in unemployment. Wages are going down for those that remain employed and, according to Republican Senate Maj. Leader Mike Bishop, that’s a good thing:
State Senate Majority Leader Michael Bishop (R) says…[t]he state…needs to change its image and “create an environment where taxes are low, labor costs are low, and not send so many negative vibes.“
That’s our Republican leadership in Michigan, fighting to keep wages of our workers low.
Well Bishop has now gone a step further and is now holding the entire state budget hostage.
Details after the jump.
Michigan’s fiscal year ended on September 30th and, for two hours, our government went unfunded until at 2 in the morning a stop gap bill was passed. Our House is controlled by Democrats and we have a Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm. However, the Senate is controlled by the Republicans. The relationship between Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Governor Granholm is adversarial at best, toxic at worst.
The state is now operating under an temporary extension of last year’s budget that expires on Halloween. In the meantime, the Congress has been toiling long hours to get a budget deal hammered out. At risk are things like K-12 per-pupil expenditures for schools, Medicaid, money local governments use for police and fire protection, and funding for “The Michigan Promise”.
That last one is particularly ironic. Several years ago, Michigan enacted the Michigan Promise scholarship. This scholarship, worth up to $4,000 to Michigan student who stay in Michigan and go to college here. But, the “promise” has turned out to be more of a “tease”. Because Republicans want a cuts-only budget, with no additional revenue enhancement, the “Promise” may very well go away.
So much for the kids. Just throw ’em there under the bus, Mike.
This week, the Congress passed 15 budget bills to keep the state going. However, because Bishop wants to play games, he’s holding back six of the bills and won’t give them to the governor to sign. Seriously. The Congress has passed them, he just won’t give them to the governor.
Granholm has a line-item veto and Bishop is afraid she’ll veto some or all of the bills so he’s holding onto them to keep her from doing it.
Bishop is, as you might imagine, being eviscerated in the press.
From the Detroit Free Press:
A meeting between Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop Wednesday did little to clear any of the fog building in advance of another potential showdown, which this time around would occur on Halloween. Certainly the Republican-majority Senate could take a step in the right direction today by moving the six remaining budget bills to Granholm, so she can sign them, veto them or exercise her line-item veto power.
Without additional funding from somewhere, all Medicaid payments from the state will be slashed by 8% from what doctors, hospitals and other institutions were receiving a year ago. It won’t help anyone if hospitals and nursing homes start to go out of business, or if doctors refuse to take more Medicaid patients. The Senate admirably made some hard choices early last summer when it passed budget bills that kept the state’s books in balance without any new sources of revenue. But even they may have assumed that the 8% Medicaid cut was merely an opening bid. Surely they do not want to leave a legacy of closed nursing homes and failing hospitals.
Every day that the Senate refuses to act, whether on a few tax compromises or on moving budget bills to the governor, is a day lost to discussion of long-term changes.
From the Lansing State Journal:
Michigan is two weeks into its budget year without an actual budget. The Senate, per its constitutional duty, has been approving budget bills. Some have been sent to the governor’s desk for enactment into law, or veto.
Other budget bills haven’t reached Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The Senate’s holding them back – for political reasons.
Bishop, though, seems to be betting on a little brinkmanship to carry the day. If he can keep budget bills off Granholm’s desk until the end of October – until the end of the one-month reprieve purchased two weeks ago – he may force Granholm to sign aboard. Alternatively, he can try to blame her for the whole mess if Nov. 1 arrives without a complete budget.
That may be Bishop’s agenda. It shouldn’t be Michigan’s.
This has been going on for over a week. Michigan is saddled with 15+% unemployment (TWICE that in Detroit) and Mike Bishop is playing brinkmanship games. Fortunately, it looks like he might give the bills to the Governor some time next week.
This is the face of today’s GOP. Reject any new ways to raise revenues, cut essential programs to the bone while killing others, and then play political chess up until the last minute to prevent any sort of real dialog.
The sad part is, Republicans have a good chance of regaining the Governor’s office in 2010.
I’m just sayin’…