Michigan’s new budget increases pain and misery

Lansing2

DETROIT - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder calls the new state budget a "high quality budget." That description should come with a warning: "High quality" does not mean it will be good for you.

Republicans claim the budget, which passed last week and awaits the governor's signature, is groundbreaking. Backbreaking would be a more apt definition. Not one Democrat in either the House or Senate voted for the measure.

In a state with double-digit unemployment, there will now be a 48-month cap on welfare cash benefits, effective retroactively. Almost 13,000 families face immediate loss of benefits.

While doing nothing about the salaries of CEOs which increased 23 percent from 2009 to 2010, this budget will shamefully eliminate an $80 clothing allowance for poor children.

The budget is also not kind to students and education.

Elementary, middle and high schools will get a "high quality" budget that leaves them short $300 per pupil.

Aid to universities and community colleges is being cut by 15 percent and 4 percent respectively.

The budget came a day after Snyder, a Republican, signed into law an overhaul of the tax system that reduces taxes on business in the state by $1.8 billion while simultaneously raising them on the working poor and seniors.

Taken together, the new budget and tax overhaul lay waste to Republican claims they are concerned about deficit reduction. If budget deficits were a concern, why create larger deficits by lowering taxes on corporations?

Instead, this budget and tax overhaul is about shifting wealth from the many to the few, attacking labor, and implementing a right-wing agenda.

For example, communities and school boards are being pressured to privatize their union workforce and force employees to pay more of pension and health care costs. Failure to do so will result in cuts in revenue sharing.

The budget for universities includes a prohibition against providing benefits to unmarried domestic partners of university employees. In addition, it ominously requires reporting of all stem cell research.

Taken together the budget and tax changes are a one-two punch that will increase misery for poor and working families in the state. They are based on a hoax, long ago used by President Reagan, that if we sacrifice more, and give more to the corporate elites, it will someday trickle back down to us.

We've been waiting over 30 years.

The governor's approval rating is 33 percent, one of the lowest in the nation. I don't think people are going to wait much longer.

Photo: Sign at a recent demonstration at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. PW/John Rummel