Tuesday night, the governor gave her annual State of the State address. As usual, it was a well-delivered speech. It had elements of optimism and hope. That, I can appreciate. As with most SOS speeches, it was her opportunity to introduce new initiatives. She mentioned some of them, but failed to mention several others.
Jack McHugh and his colleagues at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy have done their annual analysis of the Tuesday speech. They looked at how many limitations and expansions of government governor Granholm proposed. Six limitations and nine expansions were mentioned but in fact, seven more growth measures were in the written text of her speech.
The limitations she mentioned included reducing the salaries of elected officials, eliminating all earmarks, cutting off funding for the two state fairs, eliminating the department of History, Arts and Libraries, and turning wetlands enforcement over to the federal government. While her proposals are all laudable, they add up to a miniscule savings of perhaps a few million dollars in a year when the state is facing a $1 billion-plus revenue shortfall.
In spite of the collapsing economy and growing debt, the governor proposed at least 16 expansion measures including: Creating a state program to pay people to winterize homes and schools, using strict regulations to stop any new coal fired electricity plants, providing state subsidies for homeowners facing foreclosure, forcing insurance companies to freeze their rates, spending $20 million to tear down abandoned homes, giving away state property to any business that creates at least 20 "green" jobs, and developing a state initiative to address childhood obesity.
It can be argued that none of these measures are best delivered by government, but without a doubt, they will lead to an expansion of government, hiring of more bureaucrats and expenditure of more tax dollars that are not available.
You can read the details of the governor's proposals here.