Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The New Budget: Huge to...Quite Huge

For all the rhetoric about "reform, restructuring and revenue" coming from the governor, it seems the only thing she is really serious about is "revenue" (read TAX INCREASES)
So far, the House has passed two budgets, Corrections and Community Health. Each budget is increased over last year by 9%. At the rate the House Appropriations Committee is going, total spending on general fund dollars will be at $10 billion. The only problem is, anticipated general fund income for next year is $8.5 billion. Once we pass all the budgets, the governor will insist on the revenue (new taxes) to pay for it.

As far as reform and restructuring go, there are too many examples of how we are NOT reforming government to mention, but let me give just a couple from the Corrections budget:

1. The governor wants to reduce the prison population, right? Downsize the department? Well, then why did we pass a budget that increases full-time corrections employees by 493? Think about that for a moment. The average employee costs the taxpayers around $75,000, when you include benefits, retirement, office space, desk, phone, dry-cleaning, (see below). So, let me do the math for a moment...75 thousand times 493...oh, that's $37 million!

2. One of the line items in the new budget is a $3.4 million increase in the dry-cleaning allowance to cover the cost of a recently negotiated union contract for dry-cleaning of supervisors uniforms. Guess how much the contract price went up? It increased from $250 to $575 per year, per employee! And you call that reform? I'll bet my neighborhood cleaners would love that contract for half the price!

By the way, it should be noted that prison population is slated to go up around 3% next year. But by double-bunking, there are no new prisons being built, so why is the budget increasing by 9%?

By the way, I have a free weekly newsletter which I will be happy to e-mail to you. It has more in-depth information about what goes on in Lansing as well as thoughts and ideas on how to improve government. If you are interested, please send me an e-mail with the word subscribe in the subject line. JackHoogendyk@comcast.net

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