Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Last, but not Least, DHS

The Department of Human Services, one of the most incompetent departments in state government, (in my opinion) is seeing a 10% increase in spending (on General Fund Spending) and an increase of 221 full-time employees. Overall, the budget increases by 2.7%.

The effort to privatize foster care failed. Progress was made in privatizing some of the juvenile justice services.

By the way, I do not fault the rank and file case workers in the department. Many, if not most of them do their best, but they work under poor conditions. They have bureaucratic leadership, terrible technology and red tape that makes their job very difficult to perform. There are too many chiefs and, as a result, not enough funding left for the important folks, the front line workers. Of the 221 new FTE's 150 are going to be caseworkers. I guess that means they need 71 more supervisors for the 150 caseworkers. Hmm...thats one supervisor for every two new workers. "Good enough for government work."


Last, but not Least, DHS

The Department of Human Services, one of the most incompetent departments in state government, (in my opinion) is seeing a 10% increase in spending (on General Fund Spending) and an increase of 221 full-time employees. Overall, the budget increases by 2.7%.

The effort to privatize foster care failed. Progress was made in privatizing some of the juvenile justice services.

By the way, I do not fault the rank and file case workers in the department. Many, if not most of them do their best, but they work under poor conditions. They have bureaucratic leadership, terrible technology and red tape that makes their job very difficult to perform. There are too many chiefs and, as a result, not enough funding left for the important folks, the front line workers. Of the 221 new FTE's 150 are going to be caseworkers. I guess that means they need 71 more supervisors for the 150 caseworkers. Hmm...thats one supervisor for every two new workers. "Good enough for government work."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

General Government Budget

This budget includes the Legislature, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Management and Budget, Information Technology (DIT) and others. The total budget is $130 million.

The DIT does all the computers, software, servers, telecommunications, etc., etc. You may remember the newsletter I did on this department. They are the ones that parleyed 10 technology contracts worth $90 million into just over $1 billion, after "change orders". Yes, you read that right. Read the entire audit here: http://audgen.michigan.gov/comprpt/docs/r5051005.pdf

This department should be shut down and all the contracts should be turned over to private contractors on a competitive bid basis. (Oh, yes, I understand there are a few high security, sensitive issues which should stay in house).

Anyway, DIT is being rewarded for their incompetence with a 14% increase in their budget!


General Government Budget

This budget includes the Legislature, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Management and Budget, Information Technology (DIT) and others. The total budget is $130 million.

The DIT does all the computers, software, servers, telecommunications, etc., etc. You may remember the newsletter I did on this department. They are the ones that parleyed 10 technology contracts worth $90 million into just over $1 billion, after "change orders". Yes, you read that right. Read the entire audit here: http://audgen.michigan.gov/comprpt/docs/r5051005.pdf

This department should be shut down and all the contracts should be turned over to private contractors on a competitive bid basis. (Oh, yes, I understand there are a few high security, sensitive issues which should stay in house).

Anyway, DIT is being rewarded for their incompetence with a 14% increase in their budget!

Saving the toughest ones for last

The two budgets that will be the last to finish will be Department of Human Services (DHS) and Transportation. Each has one major sticking point.

DHS is a matter of whether we are going to privatize foster care. About half of the state's children who are in foster care are cared for by the state, the other half are under private care. We should privatize the whole thing because privates are more effective, from a personal and a fiscal perspective. The unions do not want to give up those employees. We will see how it shakes out.

Transportation is a question of whether to complete the DRIC project study. DRIC is the Detroit River International Crossing, a second bridge to supplement the Ambassador. I just wrote a newsletter on this. Bottom line is, the Ambassador bridge's owner can build a second span for under $1 billion in private money. The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) wants to build a new bridge with up to $3 billion in public money. A study is currently under way, courtesy of the taxpayers to evaluate (or should I say justify) public expenditure for a new bridge. The Senate is trying to cancel the rest of the study and let the private developer build the new bridge, when it is needed.


Saving the toughest ones for last

The two budgets that will be the last to finish will be Department of Human Services (DHS) and Transportation. Each has one major sticking point.

DHS is a matter of whether we are going to privatize foster care. About half of the state's children who are in foster care are cared for by the state, the other half are under private care. We should privatize the whole thing because privates are more effective, from a personal and a fiscal perspective. The unions do not want to give up those employees. We will see how it shakes out.

Transportation is a question of whether to complete the DRIC project study. DRIC is the Detroit River International Crossing, a second bridge to supplement the Ambassador. I just wrote a newsletter on this. Bottom line is, the Ambassador bridge's owner can build a second span for under $1 billion in private money. The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) wants to build a new bridge with up to $3 billion in public money. A study is currently under way, courtesy of the taxpayers to evaluate (or should I say justify) public expenditure for a new bridge. The Senate is trying to cancel the rest of the study and let the private developer build the new bridge, when it is needed.

Getting close to the finish line on the budget

Today we did the School aid budget. The good news is that it was fairly flat, actually down a little on total, from $13.008 billion to $13.007 billion. The bad news is there was pork and poor spending decisions in the bill. Three Dem members got grants for their districts to cover deficits in "millage rectifications". Some districts miscalculated their millage income and now have a deficit. The districts that are lucky enough to be in the Speaker's or the Chair of Education's districts are getting a payout to cover the shortfall.

There are also such dubious accounts as: ECIC, Early Childhood Investment Corporation; ISD Parent Involvement grants; At-Risk funding; Early Childhood Grants; School Readiness Half-Day Programs, and others. These are all pork-barrel projects that started with some Rep. who wanted something for his district, or thought he had a good idea for how to spend more taxpayer dollars.

The new "foundation grant" is $7200 per student. But if we eliminated all the special grants and pork projects, which total over $211 million, we could increase that grant by about $130, or 2% more than it is now.


Getting close to the finish line on the budget

Today we did the School aid budget. The good news is that it was fairly flat, actually down a little on total, from $13.008 billion to $13.007 billion. The bad news is there was pork and poor spending decisions in the bill. Three Dem members got grants for their districts to cover deficits in "millage rectifications". Some districts miscalculated their millage income and now have a deficit. The districts that are lucky enough to be in the Speaker's or the Chair of Education's districts are getting a payout to cover the shortfall.

There are also such dubious accounts as: ECIC, Early Childhood Investment Corporation; ISD Parent Involvement grants; At-Risk funding; Early Childhood Grants; School Readiness Half-Day Programs, and others. These are all pork-barrel projects that started with some Rep. who wanted something for his district, or thought he had a good idea for how to spend more taxpayer dollars.

The new "foundation grant" is $7200 per student. But if we eliminated all the special grants and pork projects, which total over $211 million, we could increase that grant by about $130, or 2% more than it is now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

History, Arts and Libraries (HAL)

This budget, while going down $800,000 in gross appropriations, is spending $610,000 MORE in general fund/general purpose dollars. Those are the discretionary funds that could be used for roads, cops, jails or, for that matter, public education! But no, we continue to fund the arts.

Hey, I love art, too. But is that really a function of government? There are plenty of very wealthy, generous philanthropists who are willing and able to fund the arts. And then, of course there is the actual price of the ticket.


History, Arts and Libraries (HAL)

This budget, while going down $800,000 in gross appropriations, is spending $610,000 MORE in general fund/general purpose dollars. Those are the discretionary funds that could be used for roads, cops, jails or, for that matter, public education! But no, we continue to fund the arts.

Hey, I love art, too. But is that really a function of government? There are plenty of very wealthy, generous philanthropists who are willing and able to fund the arts. And then, of course there is the actual price of the ticket.

Department of Labor and Economic Growth (D-LEG)

Boy, there is an oxymoron! This department, since its creation, has only watched hundreds of thousands of jobs and economic growth leave the state!

The budget increases to $1.3 billion, a 5.6% increase. It includes the "No Worker Left Behind" program, an invention of the Governor. It provides education grants (free college) to "displaced workers". If you worked for GM and got laid off after 20 years, you get a free education, if you are a hard-working student, trying to put yourself through college...sorry, "no soup for YOU!"


Department of Labor and Economic Growth (D-LEG)

Boy, there is an oxymoron! This department, since its creation, has only watched hundreds of thousands of jobs and economic growth leave the state!

The budget increases to $1.3 billion, a 5.6% increase. It includes the "No Worker Left Behind" program, an invention of the Governor. It provides education grants (free college) to "displaced workers". If you worked for GM and got laid off after 20 years, you get a free education, if you are a hard-working student, trying to put yourself through college...sorry, "no soup for YOU!"

Community Colleges

Increased 10%. I might also mention that for the last five years we have prohibited use of state funds by community colleges for provision of health care coverage to employees or their dependents for abortion services. The Dems stripped this out of the bill.

Additionally, a provision which prohibits extending employee benefits to unmarried partners of employees was removed. In view of the recent passage of the "marriage amendment", this provision is probably unconstitutional.


Community Colleges

Increased 10%. I might also mention that for the last five years we have prohibited use of state funds by community colleges for provision of health care coverage to employees or their dependents for abortion services. The Dems stripped this out of the bill.

Additionally, a provision which prohibits extending employee benefits to unmarried partners of employees was removed. In view of the recent passage of the "marriage amendment", this provision is probably unconstitutional.

Department of Environmental Quality

This is the Department that only duplicates what the EPA already does. It is a $371 million budget that can only be balanced IF we increase fees by $16 million plus. Who pays the new fees? Just about anybody who is in manufacturing in this state. New fees for air emissions permits, land and water use permits, solid waste permits, groundwater discharge permits, pollution prevention fees, on site waste water management, mineral wells regulation fees...but hey! we love manufacturing, and we will do "whatever it takes" to bring in more manufacturers.


Department of Environmental Quality

This is the Department that only duplicates what the EPA already does. It is a $371 million budget that can only be balanced IF we increase fees by $16 million plus. Who pays the new fees? Just about anybody who is in manufacturing in this state. New fees for air emissions permits, land and water use permits, solid waste permits, groundwater discharge permits, pollution prevention fees, on site waste water management, mineral wells regulation fees...but hey! we love manufacturing, and we will do "whatever it takes" to bring in more manufacturers.

Department of Natural Resources

This one goes up "only" 2.1% from $283 million to $289 million but it assumes we are raising over $6 million in new fees on hunters and fishermen. We haven't done that yet, but with passage of this bill, we HAVE to, otherwise the budget will be out of balance.

The budget increases by about $6 million, but includes over $7 million in "economic adjustments", that is bureaucratese for pay raises.


Department of Natural Resources

This one goes up "only" 2.1% from $283 million to $289 million but it assumes we are raising over $6 million in new fees on hunters and fishermen. We haven't done that yet, but with passage of this bill, we HAVE to, otherwise the budget will be out of balance.

The budget increases by about $6 million, but includes over $7 million in "economic adjustments", that is bureaucratese for pay raises.

Higher Education Budget

This one goes up 6.1% from $1.78 billion to $1.89 billion.


Higher Education Budget

This one goes up 6.1% from $1.78 billion to $1.89 billion.

Next up: Corrections budget

This budget is going UP 6.4% to just over $2 billion. About a $125 million increase. The two biggest items are $28 million for additional beds and $85 million to give all those hard working civil servants a raise in pay.

Let's not talk about how much could be saved by privatizing some of these services...


Next up: Corrections budget

This budget is going UP 6.4% to just over $2 billion. About a $125 million increase. The two biggest items are $28 million for additional beds and $85 million to give all those hard working civil servants a raise in pay.

Let's not talk about how much could be saved by privatizing some of these services...

First Budget up for final passage: Dept. of Community Health

This budget is going up 6.3%. A key opportunity that was missed was removing 19 and 20 yr-olds from receiving optional Medicaid benefits. The new budget is increased to just over $12 billion from last year's $11.2 billion. The governor said she was cutting another $435 million from the budget this year. Get out your calculator; when all the budgets are totaled up, you find that the governor is using "fuzzy math."


First Budget up for final passage: Dept. of Community Health

This budget is going up 6.3%. A key opportunity that was missed was removing 19 and 20 yr-olds from receiving optional Medicaid benefits. The new budget is increased to just over $12 billion from last year's $11.2 billion. The governor said she was cutting another $435 million from the budget this year. Get out your calculator; when all the budgets are totaled up, you find that the governor is using "fuzzy math."

Jones and Brown: Two Great Legislators!

By now, many of you have heard about the $120 million Michigan State Police (MSP) Headquarters the Governor wants to build in downtown Lansing. This effort comes at a time when the state is "broke" and the State Police are happily ensconced in their current HQ building which they have been leasing from MSU for ONE DOLLAR per year.

Everybody seems happy. MSP has a nice building with all the necessary amenities, MSU is happy to have MSP on campus, the taxpayers must love it. Heck, a buck a year? Who can beat that?

But, for no good reason that I can find, the Governor is pushing to do this deal.

Ah, but here comes Representative Rick Jones and Senator Cameron Brown to the rescue of the taxpayers! They just introduced today, HB5378 and a companion Senate bill to stop the project before it starts! My hat's off to these two lawmakers who are looking out for you!

To learn more about this 'boondoggle" go to: http://www.wxyz.com/content/news/investigators/story.aspx?content_id=84AA2E42-5F44-4458-832E-FFD2116E8CAA&gsa=true


Jones and Brown: Two Great Legislators!

By now, many of you have heard about the $120 million Michigan State Police (MSP) Headquarters the Governor wants to build in downtown Lansing. This effort comes at a time when the state is "broke" and the State Police are happily ensconced in their current HQ building which they have been leasing from MSU for ONE DOLLAR per year.

Everybody seems happy. MSP has a nice building with all the necessary amenities, MSU is happy to have MSP on campus, the taxpayers must love it. Heck, a buck a year? Who can beat that?

But, for no good reason that I can find, the Governor is pushing to do this deal.

Ah, but here comes Representative Rick Jones and Senator Cameron Brown to the rescue of the taxpayers! They just introduced today, HB5378 and a companion Senate bill to stop the project before it starts! My hat's off to these two lawmakers who are looking out for you!

To learn more about this 'boondoggle" go to: http://www.wxyz.com/content/news/investigators/story.aspx?content_id=84AA2E42-5F44-4458-832E-FFD2116E8CAA&gsa=true

Human Services Budget: Governor digs her heels in

The Department of Human Services is one of the most fiscally irresponsible agencies in state government. Audit after audit reports huge mismanagement issues, uncollected funds, unqualified beneficiaries, mismanaged funds, etc. But that is not the worst of it.

Children are dying in the state foster care system. Cases of abuse and neglect by foster parents are more frequent than by biological parents. The governor is on her third DHS Department head, and hopes are that this nightmare will stop.

Meanwhile, Senator Hardiman, with support from many of his colleagues has moved to put juvenile justice and foster care programs into the private sector. Currently, about half of them are privately run already. They do as well, and usually better than the state, for a lot less money.

Not surprisingly, DHS will hear nothing of it. Why? Because they think they do a better job? Not really. The number one reason for trying to keep these services in the department is to save all those state-paid union employees. It's pathetic. If you don't believe DHS is doing a poor job, just read this audit report: http://audgen.michigan.gov/comprpt/docs/r431010007.pdf


Human Services Budget: Governor digs her heels in

The Department of Human Services is one of the most fiscally irresponsible agencies in state government. Audit after audit reports huge mismanagement issues, uncollected funds, unqualified beneficiaries, mismanaged funds, etc. But that is not the worst of it.

Children are dying in the state foster care system. Cases of abuse and neglect by foster parents are more frequent than by biological parents. The governor is on her third DHS Department head, and hopes are that this nightmare will stop.

Meanwhile, Senator Hardiman, with support from many of his colleagues has moved to put juvenile justice and foster care programs into the private sector. Currently, about half of them are privately run already. They do as well, and usually better than the state, for a lot less money.

Not surprisingly, DHS will hear nothing of it. Why? Because they think they do a better job? Not really. The number one reason for trying to keep these services in the department is to save all those state-paid union employees. It's pathetic. If you don't believe DHS is doing a poor job, just read this audit report: http://audgen.michigan.gov/comprpt/docs/r431010007.pdf

Budgets may start moving today

We have exactly 16 budgets to move in the next two days. They, in toto, represent the overall state budget. As they move through final passage, I will give you some of the details of each budget. In summary, there are precious few cuts. State government is continuing to grow.


Budgets may start moving today

We have exactly 16 budgets to move in the next two days. They, in toto, represent the overall state budget. As they move through final passage, I will give you some of the details of each budget. In summary, there are precious few cuts. State government is continuing to grow.

Bureaucrats "don't get it"

You would think after enacting $1.5 billion in new taxes just in the last month, the government officials and bureaucrats in Lansing would take a break. Not so. A group made up mostly of municipalities and tax-eating industries is pushing for a new 9-cent-per-gallon tax increase on gasoline to pay for new infrastructure (roads).

What are these guys thinking? This is a huge tax increase dedicated to roads. While I can appreciate that the funds are dedicated to roads, has anyone noticed that many of the gas taxes we currently pay are NOT used for roads? They pay for things like empty city buses driving around town on the taxpayer's dollar.

If infrastructure is a primary mandate of state government, and there is a lack of funds, then we need to re-prioritize our spending habits, not soak the taxpayers again.


Bureaucrats "don't get it"

You would think after enacting $1.5 billion in new taxes just in the last month, the government officials and bureaucrats in Lansing would take a break. Not so. A group made up mostly of municipalities and tax-eating industries is pushing for a new 9-cent-per-gallon tax increase on gasoline to pay for new infrastructure (roads).

What are these guys thinking? This is a huge tax increase dedicated to roads. While I can appreciate that the funds are dedicated to roads, has anyone noticed that many of the gas taxes we currently pay are NOT used for roads? They pay for things like empty city buses driving around town on the taxpayer's dollar.

If infrastructure is a primary mandate of state government, and there is a lack of funds, then we need to re-prioritize our spending habits, not soak the taxpayers again.

Business Groups "get it"

Over 39 pro-business groups have formed a coalition to "Ax the Tax", repeal the new sales tax on services which was just enacted at the beginning of this month. The 6% sales tax on a variety of services goes into effect on December 1st and will, in my opinion, deal a devastating blow to small and medium sized businesses across this state.

What the governor simply does not understand is that this tax, particularly the tax on business-to-business consulting services will add thousands of dollars in costs to small businesses that are barely making a profit now. This new tax will put many of them below the line between profit and loss.

I fully expect to see this issue on the ballot if it is not first repealed by the legislature. The bad news for business owners is that they will have to wait until June at the earliest to see any action on the initiative.


Business Groups "get it"

Over 39 pro-business groups have formed a coalition to "Ax the Tax", repeal the new sales tax on services which was just enacted at the beginning of this month. The 6% sales tax on a variety of services goes into effect on December 1st and will, in my opinion, deal a devastating blow to small and medium sized businesses across this state.

What the governor simply does not understand is that this tax, particularly the tax on business-to-business consulting services will add thousands of dollars in costs to small businesses that are barely making a profit now. This new tax will put many of them below the line between profit and loss.

I fully expect to see this issue on the ballot if it is not first repealed by the legislature. The bad news for business owners is that they will have to wait until June at the earliest to see any action on the initiative.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What's that you say? Cut spending?

On October 31, we will be facing for the second time, a shut down of state government. At that time, the 30 day continuation budget will expire. We were granted an extension of last year's budget by the Governor because of our inability to get a budget done.

Now we are down to the last six days and the discussion is still ongoing in the appropriations committees. The new budget year is still $440 million short of the revenue needed to cover the Governor's spending desires.

We have a Governor who can't hear the taxpayers and working families of this state. They have been telling her to cut spending, but she can't cut spending; her constituency, the tax-eaters won't let her. What is she to do?

Prediction: we get perilously close to an agreement and then at the 11th hour, everything falls apart and the Governor signs another extension of the current budget. And the beat goes on...


What's that you say? Cut spending?

On October 31, we will be facing for the second time, a shut down of state government. At that time, the 30 day continuation budget will expire. We were granted an extension of last year's budget by the Governor because of our inability to get a budget done.

Now we are down to the last six days and the discussion is still ongoing in the appropriations committees. The new budget year is still $440 million short of the revenue needed to cover the Governor's spending desires.

We have a Governor who can't hear the taxpayers and working families of this state. They have been telling her to cut spending, but she can't cut spending; her constituency, the tax-eaters won't let her. What is she to do?

Prediction: we get perilously close to an agreement and then at the 11th hour, everything falls apart and the Governor signs another extension of the current budget. And the beat goes on...

Insurance Reform: Big Government Creeps Forward

Today we are likely to move a group of bills called "Individual Market Insurance Reform". It is a rather complex issue. Bottom line is, it will give more advantages to Blue Cross - Blue Shield in the Individual Market (insurance for groups of one). BCBS is a "not-for-profit" and does not have to pay state taxes. In exchange, they have agreed to become the "insurer of last resort". If you need insurance and no one else will cover you, BCBS HAS to. And the rate they can charge is somewhat regulated.

There has been much discussion about this package and it is likely to sail through the House today, but on the basic 'core principle' question of "is this more government or less government" or "does this move us toward more competition or less competition, more free market or more centralized-single-payer insurance, run by the government, in my opinion, it is the latter.

This package will lead not to lower, more competitive rates, but most likely towards higher, less competitive rates. You can read the bills at http://www.michiganvotes.org/. Enter the bill numbers 5282, 5283, 5284, 5285. I invite anyone in the insurance or health-care business to review the package and weigh in with your opinion on this legislation.

In closing, one must ask the question, considering the significance of this legislation, and the assumption that a full-time legislature has plenty of time to deliberate over and review every bill, why did this fly through committee in one day, only three legislative days after being introduced? What is the big hurry?


Insurance Reform: Big Government Creeps Forward

Today we are likely to move a group of bills called "Individual Market Insurance Reform". It is a rather complex issue. Bottom line is, it will give more advantages to Blue Cross - Blue Shield in the Individual Market (insurance for groups of one). BCBS is a "not-for-profit" and does not have to pay state taxes. In exchange, they have agreed to become the "insurer of last resort". If you need insurance and no one else will cover you, BCBS HAS to. And the rate they can charge is somewhat regulated.

There has been much discussion about this package and it is likely to sail through the House today, but on the basic 'core principle' question of "is this more government or less government" or "does this move us toward more competition or less competition, more free market or more centralized-single-payer insurance, run by the government, in my opinion, it is the latter.

This package will lead not to lower, more competitive rates, but most likely towards higher, less competitive rates. You can read the bills at http://www.michiganvotes.org/. Enter the bill numbers 5282, 5283, 5284, 5285. I invite anyone in the insurance or health-care business to review the package and weigh in with your opinion on this legislation.

In closing, one must ask the question, considering the significance of this legislation, and the assumption that a full-time legislature has plenty of time to deliberate over and review every bill, why did this fly through committee in one day, only three legislative days after being introduced? What is the big hurry?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Blatant hypocrisy at the Federal level

The current Democrat controlled Congress is harping constantly about openness and disclosure in government. They have gone hard after business and corporations. But when it comes to the big unions, well, that is a different story.

This morning the Examiner published Rick Berman’s op-ed on Dems slashing the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS, which provides union oversight) budget by $2 mil (4%). That number is $11 mil less than what the President requested.

As Pelosi/Reid increased the Dept. of Labor’s budget across the board, it was this office alone that saw cuts. Ironic, given the Dems' and unions' penchant for increasing oversight on businesses.

Here is an except from the "examiner.com" It talks about what is happening in Washington right now.

Within the last several weeks, the AFL-CIO’s second-in-command sent letters to major accounting firms asking that independent auditors give a more thorough going-over of corporations’ financial disclosures and stock options grants. The unions are for disclosure, and they mean business (or would that be “anti-business”?).

Yet at the same time, union-funded politicians in Congress are successfully pushing forward in their campaign to slash the budget for the Department of Labor agency responsible for overseeing how union leaders spend their members’ money. Think of this organization — the Office of Labor-Management Standards — as the SEC for unions.

There’s rank hypocrisy in this union ploy. Worse, there are real-world consequences for union members.

You can read the rest of the article at this site: http://www.examiner.com/printa-1002533~Richard_Berman:_Union_friends_in_Congress_slash_watchdog_agency’s_budget.html?cid=tool-print-side


Blatant hypocrisy at the Federal level

The current Democrat controlled Congress is harping constantly about openness and disclosure in government. They have gone hard after business and corporations. But when it comes to the big unions, well, that is a different story.

This morning the Examiner published Rick Berman’s op-ed on Dems slashing the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS, which provides union oversight) budget by $2 mil (4%). That number is $11 mil less than what the President requested.

As Pelosi/Reid increased the Dept. of Labor’s budget across the board, it was this office alone that saw cuts. Ironic, given the Dems' and unions' penchant for increasing oversight on businesses.

Here is an except from the "examiner.com" It talks about what is happening in Washington right now.

Within the last several weeks, the AFL-CIO’s second-in-command sent letters to major accounting firms asking that independent auditors give a more thorough going-over of corporations’ financial disclosures and stock options grants. The unions are for disclosure, and they mean business (or would that be “anti-business”?).

Yet at the same time, union-funded politicians in Congress are successfully pushing forward in their campaign to slash the budget for the Department of Labor agency responsible for overseeing how union leaders spend their members’ money. Think of this organization — the Office of Labor-Management Standards — as the SEC for unions.

There’s rank hypocrisy in this union ploy. Worse, there are real-world consequences for union members.

You can read the rest of the article at this site: http://www.examiner.com/printa-1002533~Richard_Berman:_Union_friends_in_Congress_slash_watchdog_agency’s_budget.html?cid=tool-print-side

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Solution to Michigan's tax ills?

Michigan has one of the worst tax systems in the country. We also have one of the highest tax burdens in the United States. Businesses and families are not encouraged to locate here as a result. The latest actions in Lansing regarding tax policy have only made matters worse. It is time for radical but commonsense change. It is time for the Michigan Fair Tax.

What is The MI-Fair Tax?

The Michigan Fair Tax (MFT) is a fair, no-loophole retail sales tax imposed on all NEW goods and services.  It will eliminate the Michigan Business Tax (MBT), The Personal Property Tax that businesses pay, the 6-mil state education tax, the sales tax on all business-to-business transactions and the State Personal Income Tax, which has just been raised to 4.35%. Most importantly, the MFT removes virtually all business taxes AND the need for you to file a tax return on April 15. Further, the MFT:
  • Is completely transparent, easy to calculate and virtually impossible to evade

  • Eliminates the need of businesses and individuals to spend millions in compliance costs (tax accountants and attorneys)

  • Will make Michigan much more competitive with other states and invite investment by business

  • Will provide a much more stable revenue source and will provide adequate revenues to run state government

  • Only taxes residents on purchases, not on earnings or investments

  • Will exempt citizens who are below the poverty line by rebating them for the first $10,000 or so of expenditures per household member

Some would ask, doesn't this shift the burden of taxation from businesses to individuals? The answer is, business don't really pay taxes, they pass that added cost of business on to the customer in the form of higher retail prices. When businesses see their taxes eliminated, their costs will go down leading to lower prices.

Another advantage of the MFT is that it will greatly reduce the cost of government and simplify the collection process. There is as much as $2 billion in uncollected taxes today because of unreported transactions and underground economy.  Those who live and work in Michigan illegally are not filing tax forms. The MFT fixes that problem permanently.
 
A side benefit to the MFT is that much of the tax revenue coming into the state will be paid by non-residents as they come here to vacation.
 
Michigan has, arguably, one of the most complex, confusing and difficult-to-comply-with tax codes in the nation.  We are driving business away from this state, in part, because of our tax policies.  The MFT, although not perfect, will go a long way toward making Michigan the most attractive state to live and work in the United States. As we face growing shortfalls in revenue and an economy stuck in reverse, this is the perfect time to enact the Michigan Fair Tax.
 
(You can read more about the MI-Fair Tax, and its sponsor, Representative Fulton Sheen here.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Business Owners for Hillary!

Here is a note from an alert reader:

The presumed Democratic nominee, Senator Hillary Clinton's platform is to give more power to the unions and to raise taxes for the entire country. The business owners of Michigan support Hillary because we believe it's high time for the rest of the nation to start competing with Michigan on a "level" playing field.


Business Owners for Hillary!

Here is a note from an alert reader:

The presumed Democratic nominee, Senator Hillary Clinton's platform is to give more power to the unions and to raise taxes for the entire country. The business owners of Michigan support Hillary because we believe it's high time for the rest of the nation to start competing with Michigan on a "level" playing field.

A note from an exasperated business owner

The letter below says more than I could ever say. It is from a small business owner in this state:

I am so angry at what has gone on in the state of Michigan. I am in the mortgage business and it has affected us to the extreme. With foreclosures at the highest, we have so many people in these ARMs that they are not allowing us to refinance into fixed loans, even people with great credit. You are going to see even more coming soon.

There are so many banks that will not even do business in the state of Michigan. We are just a little broker shop that is not able to survive this. Of course we don’t know what any of us are going to do because as we all know there are no jobs for us to get when that happens. Who in the world would want to bring big business to the state of Michigan? I know if it was me I would move mine to Ohio where they will pay me to bring my business.

My fiancé has a security company in this state. He was having a hard time keeping above water because everybody needs protection but nobody can afford it. Now that there is sales tax he has had to raise his prices to cover his expense and because of that, he lost 3 of his big accounts. He just had to lay off the office staff because he can’t afford to pay them anymore. So he is going to have to shut down; another one lost and more jobs gone. “Thank you” to the Democrats and a few Republicans. I'm not sure where he is to go from here.

I think it is so unfair that they could pick and choose who has to pay service tax and who doesn't. If you ask me that is discrimination!! I don't know what to do; we are looking to relocate but it’s hard. I have a daughter who is graduating this year and my fiancé has a son who he has working for him part time. I don't understand why the people of Michigan can't look out of the box and see the big picture. Without big and small businesses, the middle class have NO JOBS.


A note from an exasperated business owner

The letter below says more than I could ever say. It is from a small business owner in this state:

I am so angry at what has gone on in the state of Michigan. I am in the mortgage business and it has affected us to the extreme. With foreclosures at the highest, we have so many people in these ARMs that they are not allowing us to refinance into fixed loans, even people with great credit. You are going to see even more coming soon.

There are so many banks that will not even do business in the state of Michigan. We are just a little broker shop that is not able to survive this. Of course we don’t know what any of us are going to do because as we all know there are no jobs for us to get when that happens. Who in the world would want to bring big business to the state of Michigan? I know if it was me I would move mine to Ohio where they will pay me to bring my business.

My fiancé has a security company in this state. He was having a hard time keeping above water because everybody needs protection but nobody can afford it. Now that there is sales tax he has had to raise his prices to cover his expense and because of that, he lost 3 of his big accounts. He just had to lay off the office staff because he can’t afford to pay them anymore. So he is going to have to shut down; another one lost and more jobs gone. “Thank you” to the Democrats and a few Republicans. I'm not sure where he is to go from here.

I think it is so unfair that they could pick and choose who has to pay service tax and who doesn't. If you ask me that is discrimination!! I don't know what to do; we are looking to relocate but it’s hard. I have a daughter who is graduating this year and my fiancé has a son who he has working for him part time. I don't understand why the people of Michigan can't look out of the box and see the big picture. Without big and small businesses, the middle class have NO JOBS.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We did not need to raise taxes

Throughout 2007, Republicans (and some Democrats) have suggested various ways to make specific reductions and reforms in the state budget to pare down the size of government, without causing any serious interruptions in services. Now the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has published a compilation of Specific Recommendations to curb $1.358 billion in spending.
Replacing Michigan's New Taxes With Budget Reductions
 
According to research by the Mackinac Center:
  • Unemployment, at 7.5% is 60% above the national average.

  • Michigan is tied with North Dakota for the highest outbound migration rate.

  • Per-capita income, in a free fall since 2000, is now 7.8% below the national average.

  • Home values are plummeting; foreclosures are at their highest level in recent memory.

  • Private-sector wages are 18% below the public sector, on average.

  • Local and state tax burden is about 11th highest in the nation.

This is no time to raise taxes, yet, that is exactly what we did on October 1st.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy just released a new list of specific recommendations to reduce the size of the state budget by $1.358 billion.  This number is exactly the amount of dollars the state would bring in with the two new taxes we just imposed, (income tax increase and new 6% sales tax on services). These are reductions that can be implemented immediately to negate the need for the $1.358 billion tax increase.
 
Congratulations to Jack McHugh from Mackinac for his work on this package.  In summary, here are the recommendations the Mackinac Center makes.
  • Department of Corrections: $136 million

  • "Economic Development": $90 million

  • Department of Human Services: $135.7 million

  • Department of Community Health: $82.2 million

  • Higher Education: $82.7 million

  • Primary and Secondary schools: $286.3 million

  • Dept. History, Arts, Libraries: $29.9 million

  • Other Departments and Programs: $211.3 million

  • Government-wide Economics: $303.9 million

Are all of these cuts easy?  No, some will be difficult, but all are possible.  Will everyone like  them? Of course not!  Some will be unhappy, others will howl with displeasure. K-12 education in particular will tell you there is no way they can endure cuts. But, for the long-term gain, we must ALL endure short-term pain.  Yes, that includes the legislature.  We should see a reduction in our pay and benefits.  It is called the Part-time legislature. (See earlier newsletter about that topic).
Please read the entire report on the Mackinac Center website.

Dennis Lennox must be on to something

Dennis Lennox is a student at Central Michigan University. He started a group called "Students Against Gary Peters." SAGP is unhappy about the fact that Gary Peters (former state senator and lottery commissioner) has signed a three year contract to teach at Central, reportedly for around $65,000, but is now running for Congress down in Oakland County.

One might ask: If Gary Peters signed a full-time contract which requires his primary commitment, how can he travel down to Oakland County to campaign full-time, which he is apparently doing? Rumors are he has missed a couple of office hours already.

There seems to be more to the story, and it appears Dennis is getting under the skin of the faculty and staff. When trying to sugmit a Freedom of Information request regarding Mr. Peters' contract, Dennis was assaulted by a dean on campus. Don't believe it? Ah, but its all on YouTube!


Dennis Lennox must be on to something

Dennis Lennox is a student at Central Michigan University. He started a group called "Students Against Gary Peters." SAGP is unhappy about the fact that Gary Peters (former state senator and lottery commissioner) has signed a three year contract to teach at Central, reportedly for around $65,000, but is now running for Congress down in Oakland County.

One might ask: If Gary Peters signed a full-time contract which requires his primary commitment, how can he travel down to Oakland County to campaign full-time, which he is apparently doing? Rumors are he has missed a couple of office hours already.

There seems to be more to the story, and it appears Dennis is getting under the skin of the faculty and staff. When trying to sugmit a Freedom of Information request regarding Mr. Peters' contract, Dennis was assaulted by a dean on campus. Don't believe it? Ah, but its all on YouTube!

Hey, let's raise taxes!

LANSING -- Cuts in spending on road and bridge construction could cost Michigan more than 12,000 jobs in the next three years unless the state raises another $1 billion a year in fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, a coalition of business, government and labor groups backing the tax hikes said Wednesday.

The above is the first paragraph of a story in the Detroit Free Press from October 18. It would lead one to believe that we need to raise road taxes to preserve jobs, not to fix roads.

Here is an idea. Rather than soak the taxpayers again, let's get rid of the prevailing wage, which forces us to pay 20-30% more for construction projects than we need to. The unions are running the state, and it isn't a good thing. There are plenty of "merit shops", construction companies who will do quality work at a competitive price, who aren't even given consideration because they are not union shops. The result: we pay more for road projects, a lot more.


Hey, let's raise taxes!

LANSING -- Cuts in spending on road and bridge construction could cost Michigan more than 12,000 jobs in the next three years unless the state raises another $1 billion a year in fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, a coalition of business, government and labor groups backing the tax hikes said Wednesday.

The above is the first paragraph of a story in the Detroit Free Press from October 18. It would lead one to believe that we need to raise road taxes to preserve jobs, not to fix roads.

Here is an idea. Rather than soak the taxpayers again, let's get rid of the prevailing wage, which forces us to pay 20-30% more for construction projects than we need to. The unions are running the state, and it isn't a good thing. There are plenty of "merit shops", construction companies who will do quality work at a competitive price, who aren't even given consideration because they are not union shops. The result: we pay more for road projects, a lot more.

Tuesday, breast cancer. Today, prostate cancer

Well, we did something meaningful today. We approved a checkoff box on your state tax return to contribute to prostate cancer research.

Oh, meanwhile, "Rome is burning".


Tuesday, breast cancer. Today, prostate cancer

Well, we did something meaningful today. We approved a checkoff box on your state tax return to contribute to prostate cancer research.

Oh, meanwhile, "Rome is burning".

I've seen this movie before...

Here we go again. We have less than two weeks to settle this budget and yet we do virtually nothing. This week, the most important bill we did in the House was an act to create a "checkoff" box on your tax return to donate to breast cancer research. Yesterday, we came to session only to be told, "No voting today".

None of the departmental budgets have been passed yet. This is incredible. Oh, by the way, we are still $440 million short. The Dems don't know how to say "no" to ANY of the tax-consumers. Who is going to get cut?

We are setting up to have another marathon session.

Look for October 31st to be a scary night. I guess I won't be out taking my kid 'trick-r-treatin' this year. I will be here on the House floor, fighting off the blood-sucking vampires who are here to drain the life out of the taxpayers.


I've seen this movie before...

Here we go again. We have less than two weeks to settle this budget and yet we do virtually nothing. This week, the most important bill we did in the House was an act to create a "checkoff" box on your tax return to donate to breast cancer research. Yesterday, we came to session only to be told, "No voting today".

None of the departmental budgets have been passed yet. This is incredible. Oh, by the way, we are still $440 million short. The Dems don't know how to say "no" to ANY of the tax-consumers. Who is going to get cut?


We are setting up to have another marathon session.

Look for October 31st to be a scary night. I guess I won't be out taking my kid 'trick-r-treatin' this year. I will be here on the House floor, fighting off the blood-sucking vampires who are here to drain the life out of the taxpayers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Transparency on the March

Here is an update from Americans for Tax Reform, who have been championing the cause for Transparency across the country. You may remember I introduced this legislation in Michigan. But alas, the Democrats don't think it is important enough to take up in committee, so the bill languishes. If you did not get my newsletter about this issue, let me know. Contact me at jackhoogendyk@gmail.com. I will send you copy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Transparency in Government Spending on the March

Taxpayers have seen a lot of great developments on the "Transparency in Government Spending" front over the past few months.

Some of the more recent developments include:

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt's web portal MAP (for Map Your Taxes) now not only features information on government expenditures such as contracts and grants, but also information on tax credits.

Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina has issued an executive order mandating the creation of a comprehensive website for government expenditures and instructing state agencies to disclose their own expenditures including travel and office supplies on their own websites. Both websites are supposed to be up and running by March next year.

Take a look at ATR's letter endorsing the executive order.

Nebraska Treasurer Shane Osborn has also announced that he plans to create a similar website for government expenditures to go live before the next state legislative session.

You can access ATR's letter in support of the treasurer's plan here.

And last but not least, Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs has expanded the search function on her web portal for government expenditures in compliance with the legislation passed this session.

Taxpayers are welcoming the opportunity to be able to track government expenditures at a mouse click, as evidenced by the fact that Gov. Blunt's website got over one million hits in less than two months.

The momentum is building, and ATR will continue to push for increased transparency in government spending. For updates, you can always refer to ATR's website, and a current memo on what is happening around the country can be accessed here.


Transparency on the March

Here is an update from Americans for Tax Reform, who have been championing the cause for Transparency across the country. You may remember I introduced this legislation in Michigan. But alas, the Democrats don't think it is important enough to take up in committee, so the bill languishes. If you did not get my newsletter about this issue, let me know. Contact me at jackhoogendyk@gmail.com. I will send you copy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Transparency in Government Spending on the March

Taxpayers have seen a lot of great developments on the "Transparency in Government Spending" front over the past few months.

Some of the more recent developments include:

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt's web portal MAP (for Map Your Taxes) now not only features information on government expenditures such as contracts and grants, but also information on tax credits.

Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina has issued an executive order mandating the creation of a comprehensive website for government expenditures and instructing state agencies to disclose their own expenditures including travel and office supplies on their own websites. Both websites are supposed to be up and running by March next year.

Take a look at ATR's letter endorsing the executive order.

Nebraska Treasurer Shane Osborn has also announced that he plans to create a similar website for government expenditures to go live before the next state legislative session.

You can access ATR's letter in support of the treasurer's plan here.

And last but not least, Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs has expanded the search function on her web portal for government expenditures in compliance with the legislation passed this session.

Taxpayers are welcoming the opportunity to be able to track government expenditures at a mouse click, as evidenced by the fact that Gov. Blunt's website got over one million hits in less than two months.

The momentum is building, and ATR will continue to push for increased transparency in government spending. For updates, you can always refer to ATR's website, and a current memo on what is happening around the country can be accessed here.

More important legislation this week...tax return checkoff

Is this what the state constitution intended for us to do? Currently, when you file your state taxes on April 15th every year, you can forfeit some of your refund to the military relief fund, children's trust fund or children of veterans tuition grant program. Great programs, no doubt. But is it appropriate to use the state income tax return as the vehicle for charitable donations?

Here is what it is leading to: Today we passed a bill in the House to create a checkoff for contributions for breast cancer research. Tomorrow, we will likely pass bills to create a checkoff for prostate cancer research and an animal welfare fund. Where will it all end? What about Alzheimer's, stroke, heart attack, etc? How about protecting the environment? Those are good causes, too. Aren't they?

We are slowly turning the state into a collection agency for good charitable causes. And don't you think there may be an expense in administering all this? Someone has to allot the funds, make the transfers, record the transaction. Who pays for that? Oh, you already know...

But, these are good causes. Who could vote no? Well, I did, along with two colleagues. Of course, now we have exposed ourselves as being uncompassionate and uncaring.


More important legislation this week...tax return checkoff

Is this what the state constitution intended for us to do? Currently, when you file your state taxes on April 15th every year, you can forfeit some of your refund to the military relief fund, children's trust fund or children of veterans tuition grant program. Great programs, no doubt. But is it appropriate to use the state income tax return as the vehicle for charitable donations?

Here is what it is leading to: Today we passed a bill in the House to create a checkoff for contributions for breast cancer research. Tomorrow, we will likely pass bills to create a checkoff for prostate cancer research and an animal welfare fund. Where will it all end? What about Alzheimer's, stroke, heart attack, etc? How about protecting the environment? Those are good causes, too. Aren't they?

We are slowly turning the state into a collection agency for good charitable causes. And don't you think there may be an expense in administering all this? Someone has to allot the funds, make the transfers, record the transaction. Who pays for that? Oh, you already know...

But, these are good causes. Who could vote no? Well, I did, along with two colleagues. Of course, now we have exposed ourselves as being uncompassionate and uncaring.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

HB 4956. "Food safety"

"Introduced by Rep. Jeff Mayes on June 20, 2007, to revise the state food code adopted in 2000 to require all food service establishments to have present at all times an employee who is certified under American National Standards Institute standards as having passed an accredited food safety training course; raising a number of fees; removing a licensure exemption for schools; revising various inspection requirements (including more "risk-based" rather than strict calendar-based inspection frequency); and more."

The above came directly from the www.michiganvotes.org web site. You gotta love those guys at Michigan Votes. They really give you the unvarnished truth.

Our friends on the Dem side of the aisle must think we consumers are incapable of any personal responsibility at all, they are working constantly to protect us from...ourselves. You know, every time they take away our need to exercise a little personal responsibility, it means we also lose individual liberty, and usually it adds more cost to everyday life.

This and many other bills introduced by the Democrats are often well intended, but seldom accomplish much more than raise the cost of doing business and the cost of goods and services to a population that just can't afford it anymore.


HB 4956. "Food safety"

"Introduced by Rep. Jeff Mayes on June 20, 2007, to revise the state food code adopted in 2000 to require all food service establishments to have present at all times an employee who is certified under American National Standards Institute standards as having passed an accredited food safety training course; raising a number of fees; removing a licensure exemption for schools; revising various inspection requirements (including more "risk-based" rather than strict calendar-based inspection frequency); and more."

The above came directly from the www.michiganvotes.org web site. You gotta love those guys at Michigan Votes. They really give you the unvarnished truth.

Our friends on the Dem side of the aisle must think we consumers are incapable of any personal responsibility at all, they are working constantly to protect us from...ourselves. You know, every time they take away our need to exercise a little personal responsibility, it means we also lose individual liberty, and usually it adds more cost to everyday life.

This and many other bills introduced by the Democrats are often well intended, but seldom accomplish much more than raise the cost of doing business and the cost of goods and services to a population that just can't afford it anymore.

On the agenda for today...more government regulation

HB 4770, 4771 and 4772 are bills regarding "Interior Designers". This is a classic example of expanded government regulation to protect a small group of individuals or companies, at the expense of the rest of the population. Consumers will only be forced to pay higher prices for interior design services as the "cartel" corners the market. The "Interior Design Freedom" website, http://www.interiordesignfreedom.org/ explains it quite clearly...

"...HB4771 and HB4772, both introduced by Rep. Andy Meisner on May 16th, 2007, outline a restrictive title and practice act for Michigan’s interior design industry. In Michigan, this legislation is championed by the Coalition for Interior Design Registration. Michigan’s interior designers, much like their colleagues in numerous other states, face special-interest lobbying groups pushing for restrictive measures in seeking a monopoly over the practice of interior design." Go to the website above for more specific explanation.

The Detroit News published an excellent op-ed on the subject. http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007710080321 They said this:

"House Bill 4772 would force all interior designers to obtain a license from the government before they could practice interior design, or even call themselves "interior designers." The small group of interior designers pushing the bill (for the third time) seeks to create a cartel. That is, they want to establish government-imposed barriers to entry into the industry to limit competition."

Adam Smith, in that little book he wrote in 1776, "The Wealth of Nations", could not have said it better:

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. … But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary."


On the agenda for today...more government regulation

HB 4770, 4771 and 4772 are bills regarding "Interior Designers". This is a classic example of expanded government regulation to protect a small group of individuals or companies, at the expense of the rest of the population. Consumers will only be forced to pay higher prices for interior design services as the "cartel" corners the market. The "Interior Design Freedom" website, http://www.interiordesignfreedom.org/ explains it quite clearly...

"...HB4771 and HB4772, both introduced by Rep. Andy Meisner on May 16th, 2007, outline a restrictive title and practice act for Michigan’s interior design industry. In Michigan, this legislation is championed by the Coalition for Interior Design Registration. Michigan’s interior designers, much like their colleagues in numerous other states, face special-interest lobbying groups pushing for restrictive measures in seeking a monopoly over the practice of interior design." Go to the website above for more specific explanation.

The Detroit News published an excellent op-ed on the subject. http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007710080321 They said this:

"House Bill 4772 would force all interior designers to obtain a license from the government before they could practice interior design, or even call themselves "interior designers." The small group of interior designers pushing the bill (for the third time) seeks to create a cartel. That is, they want to establish government-imposed barriers to entry into the industry to limit competition."

Adam Smith, in that little book he wrote in 1776, "The Wealth of Nations", could not have said it better:

"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. … But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Feedback on the state Police Building

You may have read my newsletter about the Governor's grand plan to build a $117 million HQ for the Michigan State Police, when a fine building being leased for $1.00 per year is apparently "not good enough". If you did not receive the letter and would like a copy via email, send me a note at jackhoogendyk@gmail.com.

Here is a note I received from someone who "oughta know" about the MSP situation:

...We in the State Police saw this coming a long time ago. The reporters information is very accurate. There is not enough room for a State Police H. Q. on [that] piece of land in downtown Lansing. No heli-pad, no room to put our Emergency Mobilization vehicles, no parking etc, etc, etc. ...The State Police have never supported this move, but our Director works for the Governor so will acquiesce to her decisions or lose his job. Isn't politics grand? It's these types of decisions by our elected officials that cause the voting public to lose faith in government. They not only lose faith, they get mad. Sadly many of them probably think the State Police asked for this building. We have Troopers in the field working in dumps not suited for man or beast, and they are going to build this H. Q. downtown Lansing. What a selfish , self serving venture. Can't our politicians from time to time just do the right thing?...


Feedback on the state Police Building

You may have read my newsletter about the Governor's grand plan to build a $117 million HQ for the Michigan State Police, when a fine building being leased for $1.00 per year is apparently "not good enough". If you did not receive the letter and would like a copy via email, send me a note at jackhoogendyk@gmail.com.

Here is a note I received from someone who "oughta know" about the MSP situation:

...We in the State Police saw this coming a long time ago. The reporters information is very accurate. There is not enough room for a State Police H. Q. on [that] piece of land in downtown Lansing. No heli-pad, no room to put our Emergency Mobilization vehicles, no parking etc, etc, etc. ...The State Police have never supported this move, but our Director works for the Governor so will acquiesce to her decisions or lose his job. Isn't politics grand? It's these types of decisions by our elected officials that cause the voting public to lose faith in government. They not only lose faith, they get mad. Sadly many of them probably think the State Police asked for this building. We have Troopers in the field working in dumps not suited for man or beast, and they are going to build this H. Q. downtown Lansing. What a selfish , self serving venture. Can't our politicians from time to time just do the right thing?...

State spends to help you raise your kids

Do you really want the state to spend your money teaching "positive parenting skills"?

Over the next month, I can tell you with relative certainty, you will see a flurry of left-leaning, if not socialistic-in-nature, bills working their way through the House. Case in point: HB4607. Aptly described by Michigan Votes.org as a bill to authorize state grants for "positive parenting skills" programs.

Read the bill language here:

It authorizes expenditures of state general funds for such things as improving parent and child interaction, improving school readiness and promoting access to needed community services. It will open the door to the creation of any number of new programs or agencies that will "help" you do what you should do for yourself: raise your children.

The liberals know that you are not paying close enough attention to be fully aware of what they are slipping by you. You are too busy trying keep your family business afloat or figuring out how you are going to meet your new tax obligations.

This type of legislation is a waste of precious resources and further justifies the need for a part-time legislature. Instead of coming to Lansing for a couple of months to take care of the state budget, we stay around all year doing things like mandating businesses to provide a bathroom to anyone who has an emergency, piling more and more licensing regulations on businesses or telling parents they are clueless and must therefore ask the state to show them how to "improve parent and child interaction."

Call your state rep. and tell them to reject HB4607.

Find your representative's e-mail and phone number here.

You should especially contact Floor leader Steve Tobocman, stevetobocman@house.mi.gov or the bill sponsor, Brenda Clack, brendaclack@house.mi.gov.  It would be especially helpful if you contact Republican legislators.  If every one of them votes against this bill, it will send a strong message that we stand for less government and personal responsibility.
 
Act now, because this bill will likely be on the House floor for a vote Wednesday.

Done with fiscal irresponsibility, on to bad policy enactment

We managed to botch up the tax and fiscal policy of this state last week. Now that we have completed that task, we can move on to the enactment of some excessively bad policy. Over the next month, I can tell you with relative certainty, you will see a flurry of left-leaning, if not socialistic-in-nature, bills working their way through the House. Case in point: HB4607. Aptly described by http://www.michiganvotes.org/ as a bill to authorize state grants to “positive parenting skills” programs.

Read the bill language here:
http://www.michiganvotes.org/Legislation.aspx?ID=53122
It authorizes expenditures of state general funds for such things as improving parent and child interaction, improving school readiness and promoting access to needed community services. It will open the door to the creation of any number of new programs or agencies that will "help" you do what you should do for yourself: raise your children.

The liberals know that you are not paying close enough attention to be fully aware of what they are slipping by you. You are too busy trying keep your family business afloat or figuring out how you are going to meet your new tax obligations.

This type of legislation further justifies the need for a part-time legislature. Instead of coming to Lansing for a couple of months to take care of the state budget, we stay around all year doing things like mandating businesses to provide a bathroom to anyone who has an emergency, piling more and more licensing regulations on businesses or telling parents they are clueless and must therefore ask the state to show them how to "improve parent and child interaction."

Call your state rep. and tell them to reject this legislation.


Done with fiscal irresponsibility, on to bad policy enactment

We managed to botch up the tax and fiscal policy of this state last week. Now that we have completed that task, we can move on to the enactment of some excessively bad policy. Over the next month, I can tell you with relative certainty, you will see a flurry of left-leaning, if not socialistic-in-nature, bills working their way through the House. Case in point: HB4607. Aptly described by http://www.michiganvotes.org/ as a bill to authorize state grants to “positive parenting skills” programs.

Read the bill language here:
http://www.michiganvotes.org/Legislation.aspx?ID=53122
It authorizes expenditures of state general funds for such things as improving parent and child interaction, improving school readiness and promoting access to needed community services. It will open the door to the creation of any number of new programs or agencies that will "help" you do what you should do for yourself: raise your children.

The liberals know that you are not paying close enough attention to be fully aware of what they are slipping by you. You are too busy trying keep your family business afloat or figuring out how you are going to meet your new tax obligations.

This type of legislation further justifies the need for a part-time legislature. Instead of coming to Lansing for a couple of months to take care of the state budget, we stay around all year doing things like mandating businesses to provide a bathroom to anyone who has an emergency, piling more and more licensing regulations on businesses or telling parents they are clueless and must therefore ask the state to show them how to "improve parent and child interaction."

Call your state rep. and tell them to reject this legislation.

Fallout

Now that a week has passed since we raised income taxes and created a hatful of new service taxes, the fallout is just beginning to evidence itself.

While the majority of taxpayers can see the damage that these actions by the legislature have inflicted on our state, there are many who don't see it is a big problem or who actually support the tax increase because they have been convinced the state needs the extra revenue.

But it is a different story in the business community. The folks who create two out of every three new jobs, the small employer, sees this for what it really is. The new taxes we have enacted will be a crippling blow to this state's already critically ill economy.

A local Chamber of Commerce President described it this way, the rewrite of the Single Business Tax into the new Michigan Business Tax was essentially rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The new taxes we imposed on the last day of September are like blowing two more holes in the hull of the ship, just below the water line. He told me that he has already heard from three small businesses who have run the numbers and made the irreversible decision to close up shop.

It is hard to find anyone who knows how business operates who does not think the future for this state, dim as it might have been, has only become darker.


Fallout

Now that a week has passed since we raised income taxes and created a hatful of new service taxes, the fallout is just beginning to evidence itself.

While the majority of taxpayers can see the damage that these actions by the legislature have inflicted on our state, there are many who don't see it is a big problem or who actually support the tax increase because they have been convinced the state needs the extra revenue.

But it is a different story in the business community. The folks who create two out of every three new jobs, the small employer, sees this for what it really is. The new taxes we have enacted will be a crippling blow to this state's already critically ill economy.

A local Chamber of Commerce President described it this way, the rewrite of the Single Business Tax into the new Michigan Business Tax was essentially rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The new taxes we imposed on the last day of September are like blowing two more holes in the hull of the ship, just below the water line. He told me that he has already heard from three small businesses who have run the numbers and made the irreversible decision to close up shop.

It is hard to find anyone who knows how business operates who does not think the future for this state, dim as it might have been, has only become darker.

A slow week in the House

After the "Sunday night massacre" things slowed down considerably in the House. Last week, we only passed six bills. The most controversial one was HB5046 which mandates that private businesses allow certain individuals suffering from diseases which may require frequent visits to the bathroom to use their private restroom facility.

I can appreciate the intent of the bill. It's compassionate...but once again, we must ask the question, do we really need the state government mandating common courtesy? Don't you think that any private business, like say, a Barber shop would gladly allow someone to come in off the street to use the bathroom if they were really in distress?

Once more, government expands, government has to dictate good behavior...


A slow week in the House

After the "Sunday night massacre" things slowed down considerably in the House. Last week, we only passed six bills. The most controversial one was HB5046 which mandates that private businesses allow certain individuals suffering from diseases which may require frequent visits to the bathroom to use their private restroom facility.

I can appreciate the intent of the bill. It's compassionate...but once again, we must ask the question, do we really need the state government mandating common courtesy? Don't you think that any private business, like say, a Barber shop would gladly allow someone to come in off the street to use the bathroom if they were really in distress?

Once more, government expands, government has to dictate good behavior...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cut to the bone?

Detroit Public Schools $1.7 million in hotels, catering, travel to places like San Diego, Miami, Reno. Including $100,000 in catering by an unlicensed business that just happened to be in the home of a Detroit school principal. (Can you imagine catering $100,000 worth of food out of your home?) Detroit Free Press, February 9,2007

Michigan Ave. Fountain, $400,000. This is the state's share of multi-million dollar road improvement project in downtown Lansing. It includes a fountain in the middle of the street on Michigan Avenue, one block from the Capitol. Lansing State Journal, February 21, 2007

Art Work for Detroit Public Schools, $1.6 million. The district spent taxpayer approved bond money to buy art for the walls of the districts buildings. How many pieces are there and where are they hanging? Hmm...nobody knows for sure. Detroit Free Press, February 24, 2007

New State Police Headquarters, $116.7 million. MSP is currently housed in buildings on the campus of MSU. State pays $1.00 per year (yes, I said one dollar) for the very serviceable HQ complex. Nevertheless, the Governor went ahead (and the Legislature's capital outlay committee approved) a $116.7 million project to build new headquarters, which will be leased for 25 years. The contract was let as a "no-bid contract". Oh, by the way, that one dollar lease lasts until 2030. WXYT, Channel 7, September 26, 2007

Surgeon General, $159,000. A ceremonial position. The SG advocates for healthier lifestyles. Granted, the Governor did come to her senses and eliminate this position this year. Gongwers, March 27, 2007

Foot baths for students, $25,000. U of M, Dearborn is constructing two foot-washing stations on campus for Muslim students. Yes, these are taxpayer funds. Washington Times, August 7, 2007

First Gentleman's staff, $209,000. Dan Mulhern has three taxpayer-funded staffers. What do they do? How does this state benefit? Don't know. Mr. Mulhern is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. But, he says, they are "dedicated, hard-working state employees..." Michigan Taxpayer Alliance, September 2007


Cut to the bone?

Detroit Public Schools $1.7 million in hotels, catering, travel to places like San Diego, Miami, Reno. Including $100,000 in catering by an unlicensed business that just happened to be in the home of a Detroit school principal. (Can you imagine catering $100,000 worth of food out of your home?) Detroit Free Press, February 9,2007

Michigan Ave. Fountain, $400,000. This is the state's share of multi-million dollar road improvement project in downtown Lansing. It includes a fountain in the middle of the street on Michigan Avenue, one block from the Capitol. Lansing State Journal, February 21, 2007

Art Work for Detroit Public Schools, $1.6 million. The district spent taxpayer approved bond money to buy art for the walls of the districts buildings. How many pieces are there and where are they hanging? Hmm...nobody knows for sure. Detroit Free Press, February 24, 2007

New State Police Headquarters, $116.7 million. MSP is currently housed in buildings on the campus of MSU. State pays $1.00 per year (yes, I said one dollar) for the very serviceable HQ complex. Nevertheless, the Governor went ahead (and the Legislature's capital outlay committee approved) a $116.7 million project to build new headquarters, which will be leased for 25 years. The contract was let as a "no-bid contract". Oh, by the way, that one dollar lease lasts until 2030. WXYT, Channel 7, September 26, 2007

Surgeon General, $159,000. A ceremonial position. The SG advocates for healthier lifestyles. Granted, the Governor did come to her senses and eliminate this position this year. Gongwers, March 27, 2007

Foot baths for students, $25,000. U of M, Dearborn is constructing two foot-washing stations on campus for Muslim students. Yes, these are taxpayer funds. Washington Times, August 7, 2007

First Gentleman's staff, $209,000. Dan Mulhern has three taxpayer-funded staffers. What do they do? How does this state benefit? Don't know. Mr. Mulhern is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. But, he says, they are "dedicated, hard-working state employees..." Michigan Taxpayer Alliance, September 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The New Floor for Big Government

On Sunday night, the legislature gave Governor Granholm most of the new revenues she asked for, about $1.5 billion. Argue if you like whether she needed the money to balance the budget, or to "protect the vulnerable" or to keep government running. Believe what you like about the reasons for the big increase in revenue, the fact is we have raised the floor for the minimum budgetary expenditure for next year.

Government grows; no matter how hard we try to shrink it, the best we can hope for is to minimize its growth. Under Craig DeRoche's leadership as Speaker of the House in 2005 and 2006, government did something it has not done in years: it grew at LESS than the rate of inflation. But this year, we went back to government business as usual. The budget is not final, but when it is at the end of October, you will find that once again state government is growing at above the rate of inflation, even though the economy is contracting and state population is shrinking.

Bad as all that is, early projections are that the budget for 2008-09, will be $500 million in the RED. Anyone care to wager that number will be larger when the annual revenue estimating conference takes place next January?

We conservatives have said it ad nauseum, Michigan does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. The halls of the Capitol have been clogged with good people called lobbyists. They work hard and earn their money well. They are paid to make the case for any number of agencies and organizations, all of whom are tax-eaters. When they see a fresh supply of revenue, they descend on the black and white tiles of the Capitol like a plague of locusts. They are every bit as effective; when they are done, there is nothing left.

We just increased taxes by $1.5 billion; we do not yet have a budget for the new year. This means opportunity. Every beneficiary of the government largesse will be there, making the case for why they need just a little more money.