What Does Gov. Snyder’s Budget Mean to You?

    I spent this evening at a panel discussion at Washtenaw Community College hosted by Michigan State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). The event was called, “What Does Governor Snyder’s Budget Mean to You?”, and joining the Senator were Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schrieber, Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools Dedrick Martin, Eastern Michigan University Professor and Chair of the American Association of University Professors Collective Bargaining Congress Howard Bunsis, and Audrey Dowell from the Michigan League for Human Services. What follow are my very rough notes on the opening comments, followed by video of the Q&A session. I don’t doubt that I got a few things wrong, but, as I saw a number of MM.com readers in the audience, I’m hopeful that someone will step in and correct me if necessary.

    • Senator Warren started by acknowledging that the State had a $1.8 billion structural deficit. This, as we would learn later, was not terribly bad compared to other states. In fact, I believe it was said that were were among the bottom 25% when it came to debt. Governor Snyder, Warren reminded us, was compelled by the state constitution to submit a balanced budget, which he has done. His budget, however, has yet to be voted on by the House and Senate, and it’s possible that changes could still be made in certain areas. I’d argue, given the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, that it’s unlikely that any concessions will be made, but I liked the fact that Warren tried to position this as a dialogue in which our voices, should we choose to use them, may have some impact.

    • Warren began by focusing on the revenue side of the equation, outlining where, according to Governor Snyder’s plan, he hoped to find the additional tax dollars necessary to fund his tax breaks for the corporate class. The majority of the money he hoped to bring in, we were told, would come from taxing the pensions of retirees. (I’m a bit fuzzy on the numbers, but I believe she said that, while the pensions of public employees have never been taxed in Michigan, that the pensions of those working for private companies presently are, when they exceeded something like $45,000 a year. Under Snyder’s proposal, both would be taxed, and there would be no lower limit.) This would bring in an estimated $900 million a year. In addition, the Governor’s plan would see the Earned Income Tax Credit eliminated. This act alone, it’s estimated, would throw an additional 25,000 working poor into poverty. (The Earned Income Tax Credit was instituted to give some tax relief to our most vulnerable citizens. On average, it returns a little over $400 a year to those tax payers who make the least in our economy.) These new revenue streams would be used, according to Snyder’s proposed budget, to offset the costs associated with the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax.

    • Audrey Dowell from the Michigan League for Human Services was introduced at this point to discuss how the Snyder budget would negatively impact the working poor. She stated that the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit had been enacted in 2006 in recognition of the fact that our state has an extremely regressive tax structure, under which a disproportionate amount of the burden is shouldered by those tax payers earning the least. According to her numbers, the average recipient of this credit had $432 of their tax dollars returned to them. Last year, approximately 17,000 in Washtenaw County qualified for this credit, which she referred to as a “proven and effective anti-poverty tool.” Without this credit, we were told, another 14,000 children in Washtenaw County would fall below the poverty line. Hearing this, Rebekah Warren reminded the audience that we wouldn’t likely save anything by eliminating these tax credits, as these children would, as a result of Snyder’s change, qualify for other state programs serving the poor. “The costs,” she said, “would not go away.” All we’d be doing is making thousands of additional people, who had previously been able to support themselves, dependent on the government. It’s also worth noting that all the studies show that dollars returned to these individuals living near the poverty line are more likely to find their way back into local economies. In other words, when these people get their $432, they spend it, and local businesses benefit.

    • Warren talked about the limited ways in which cities in Michigan can collect revenues. For the most part, they do this in three ways. First, they collect property tax. Second, they collect what is called personal property tax, which is essentially a tax on heavy equipment and industrial machinery. And, third, they share in income tax revenue collected by the state. This last mechanism, referred to as state revenue sharing, was instituted decades ago so that each municipality didn’t institute its own tax system. Under this model, the state collects income tax from individuals state-wide, and then redistributes those funds to cities, towns and townships according to population and other considerations. According to the most conservative estimates, Snyder’s budget could decrease the amount of state revenue sharing dollars sent to the City of Ypsilanti by as much as 44.3%, or $1,176,142.

    • Today, Rick Snyder, in a speech delivered in Grand Rapids, explained that some of the revenue sharing dollars would be preserved, and that cities could compete for these funds. To be eligible, according to Warren, cities would have to, among other things, show that, going forward, pensions would be replaced by employee contribution-based retirement accounts, and that city employees were paying at least 20% of their own health care costs. Furthermore, cities would be favored that consolidated services under “metropolitan authorities,” which would supersede county commissions. (More on this in a post tomorrow.)

    • Paul Schreiber at this point talked about our state’s regressive tax structure, and how, proportionately speaking, the poor pay more of their income to the state than the wealthy do. Schreiber pointed out that this wasn’t just the case for individuals, but for cities as well. To illustrate this, this he referenced the fact that Ypsilanti’s revenue sharing payment was, according to Snyder’s plan, to be cut by at least 44%, whereas towns like Ann Arbor were being cut as little as 18%. The decrease in Ypsilanti’s revenue sharing would, according to Schreiber, amount to 10% of our annual budget. He also said that, if we were lucky, we might be able to get $600,000 from the new, competitive revenue sharing pot. (The size of that pot will, according to Snyder’s plan, shrinks from $300 million to $200 million.)

    • Ypsilanti, according to Schreiber, has $9 million in reserve, which should buy us three-quarters of a year. He anticipates, with dropping property tax revenues, and the Snyder changes to revenue sharing, running out of money by 2014, unless something changes. (Half of all general fund expenditures at this point, according to Schreiber, are for police and fire protection.) Even if the economy suddenly turns around, he says, we won’t be able to take in the revenue necessary to run the city due to provisions in the Headlee amendment.

    • Schreiber also points out, as we’ve discussed here, that the Snyder budget encourages urban sprawl and the further destruction of green spaces by eliminating brownfield redevelopment credits and other tax incentive programs commonly utilized for urban redevelopment.

    • Schreiber suggests that we raise the state income tax 1% and reinstitute state revenue sharing, which would wipe out the deficit and allow well run cities like Ypsilanti to survive intact.

    • After referring to public education as “the great equalizer” in our country, Warren introduces Dedrick Martin, the Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools. He says that 65% of his students are at or near poverty. He says that of those, at least 100 are homeless, and that this number is growing. In the last 18 months, he says, the Ypsi school system has closed two buildings, let many employees go, consolidated transit operations with nearby school systems, and negotiated significant pay and benefit concessions from teachers and other employees. And, according to their Deficit Elimination Plan, which was recently submitted to the state, they will soon be cutting an additional $4 million from their budget. In a 24-month, according to Martin, they will have decreased their budget of $50 million by 23% to $38.5 million. And, all the while, he says, the state is demanding higher academic standards. (He later says that the state board of education is too short-staffed to even process the reports that are constantly being demanded of his office.) He says Ypsi schools are presently approaching 30 kids in a classroom, at least at the elementary level, and that that number is rising. Soon, he says, art programs, athletics and after school activities will need to be cut. (It’s estimated, according to the numbers provided by Warren, that the Snyder budget would cut $1,814,645 from Ypsi schools.)

    • EMU’s Howard Bunsis reports that Snyder is calling for a 15% cut to higher education funding, which will undoubtedly lead to higher tuition costs at the state’s 15 public universities. (There are presently 259,000 students enrolled across these 15 institutions.) He also says that some Republicans in Lansing are of the opinion that 15 state schools are too many, and that some should be merged. As it is, says Bunsis, EMU is practically a private school already, as only 9% of its operating budget comes from the state. According to Bunsis, Michigan already has the 4th highest tuition in the country. And, we’re 48th when it comes to per capita appropriations from our state governments. (These two facts, as he says, go hand in hand.) And, Snyder is suggesting at 15% cut on top of that. As a vast majority of EMU students are working their way through school, and already barely making it as it is, Bunsis fears that the increased tuition might keep them from seeking higher education.

    • Bunsis says that college enrollment in Michigan is the highest that it’s been in 20 years. He also says that the number of prisoners in the state is lower now than it has been over that same period of time. In spite of that, however, he says that we’re increasing corrections expenditures while cutting our support of colleges. “What we apparently want,” he says, “is more prisoners and fewer college students.” (In the Q&A portion, Warren goes into some ideas for saving money by cutting down on prison time for non-violent offenders, etc.)

    • “Michigan is not a high tax state,” says Bunsis, who, if I’m not mistaken, is a professor of Accounting. He advocates a switch to a progressive income tax. “We cannot raise taxes on people making $15,000 a year,” he says emphatically.

    • Right now, the state income tax rate is a flat 4.35%. In October, according to Snyder’s plan, it’s scheduled to drop to 4.25%. Warren has offered legislation that would stop this drop, at least temporarily. She’s also in favor of a graduated income tax, like a majority of other states have, where a disproportionate burden isn’t put on the poor and middle class. The Michigan constitution, however, according to Warren, doesn’t make that possible. For this reason, she’s pushing for a constitutional amendment, which we, the people of Michigan, would be able to vote on during the next election. This, of course, would have to be supported by her Republican colleagues, which doesn’t seem likely at this point.

    OK, that, I believe, is most of what we covered during the first part of the evening. As I mentioned, I shot video of the panel discussion that followed it. Unfortunately, the video, which I had to break into six parts, is still uploading to YouTube, so I don’t have it all right now. If all goes well, though, I should be able to get the rest up tomorrow morning, so please check back. It really is worth watching.

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      35 Comments

      1. Glen S.
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

        Very thorough reporting, Mark.

        Thanks for taking the time.

        For anyone who’s interested, the AnnArbor.com story on last night’s event is available at: http://www.annarbor.com/news/local-leaders-state-sen-rebekah-warren-criticize-gov-rick-snyders-budget-at-panel-discussion/

      2. Posted March 22, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        A couple notes on the revenue sharing piece:

        The $1.2m loss of state revenue sharing by the City of Ypsilanti assumes a worst-case scenario – that’s the total amount of statutory revenue sharing the city receives, so assumes that the city calls up the State and says, “yeah, we’re not planning to do any of that stuff you want us to do to get it back.” The Governor’s message doesn’t spell out specific math, but I think we could safely plan on getting 2/3 of our current statutory allocation, since the total pot is being reduced by 1/3.

        Based on what the Council and City Manager have already done over the years, in my read of the Governor’s plan, Ypsi is very well-positioned to meet the various prongs of the proposed “Economic Vitality Incentive”.

        * I think the City Manager’s introductory letter to the annual budget, along with the various graphs he presents to council in the process, already mostly meet the “accountability and transparency” expectations of the Governor. (Check the first 13 pages of last year’s budget.) Turning that into the “citizen’s guide” and “dashboard” that the Governor calls for is mostly a formatting issue.

        * The service sharing/consolidation point is the least specific – only a sentence or two – but the administration has elsewhere indicated that efforts already undertaken will count. Ypsi’s “functional fire district”, shared dispatching, and discussion/study of regional policing with the Twp (currently) and the other eastern Washtenaw communities (a few years ago) are big plusses, considering what a big chunk of the City’s budget is taken up by public safety. The City contracts with Pittsfield for building inspection/plan review. Other items make little financial impact, but fit well some of the Governor’s other points about metropolitan governance – the joint administration of CDBG funds through the Urban County partnership, the County Brownfield Authority, etc., have fairly minimal staffing impact, but are good for the strategic/regional prioritization of efforts. Note that the governor’s message does not really say service consolidation has to be done, just evaluated with “good faith” estimates of potential cost savings.

        * The HR bit is probably the biggest pill in the handful, requiring that all new hires pay at least 20% of their health care costs and have a defined contribution retirement program, rather than defined benefit, with employer contribution of no more than 10% of base salary. Since it’s “new hires”, my guess is that this will create a UAW-style two-tiered system within the collective bargaining groups.

        Anyways, details on all this are still minimal, and subject to whatever legislation ends up passing to implement it (Gov. Snyder’s special messages are proposals, not last words), but this armchair analyst’s first read suggests that the City should be looking at a statutory revenue sharing loss of about $300-400k, rather than $1.2m. (Obviously, still not a good thing.)

      3. karen
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        How many planners does the city need to reduce to save police and fire jobs?

      4. Posted March 22, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        Also, here’s a sort-of-good guide to how revenue sharing payments are calculated: http://www.michigan.gov/treasury/0,1607,7-121-1751_2197-5658–,00.html.

        If you’re wondering why Ypsi’s statutory revenue sharing is 44% of its total revenue sharing while Ann Arbor’s is only 18% of its total revenue sharing, it’s at least partly because the statutory revenue sharing formula is actually somewhat progressive: not only does a municipality get a boost in the formula if its taxable value per capita is lower than the statewide average, but “local tax effort” is a part of the formula – if the community has chosen to have a higher tax rate to support better services, that’s recognized with higher statutory revenue sharing.

      5. Edward
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        I try to think the best of Rick Snyder. I try not to think that he’s purposely setting out to destroy the middle class. The evidence, however, is leading me toward that conclusion. I can see, in theory, wanting to keep the tax rate low on the wealthy, with the thought being that they might be more inclined to invest here, but, given how much our tax rates have fallen over the last several decades, and the problems that we find ourselves facing in spite of that fact, it doesn’t seem to work. To even suggest that the working poor should contribute more at this point seems almost criminal. While I doubt that a recall would be successful, I welcome the opportunity to add my name.

      6. Posted March 22, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        I fail to see how dropping the flat state income tax a tenth of a percent is going to stimulate the economy.

        Somebody please explain this to me because I just don’t get it.

        What are the arguments for a flat tax structure like we have?

      7. cmadler
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        According to the information Mayor Schrieber provided in his State of the City report several weeks ago, the City of Ypsilanti is headed for fiscal insolvency by about 2015 even without Governor Snyder’s proposed cuts, and it will take significant additional cuts to avoid this. While I have no problem with lobbying efforts to retain as much revenue sharing as possible, that would only delay the problem, not avoid it, and I have yet to hear any suggestions about what changes at the local level might need to be made.

      8. cmadler
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        Peter: the main arguments I’ve heard in favor of a flat income tax, whether at the state or federal level, are that it is “simple” — although in truth, most of the complexity in tax codes lies in the deductions and credits, not in the rate itself — and that it doesn’t “punish” rich people.

      9. Glen S.
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        @ cmadler

        Michigan’s “system” for funding local government services (and school districts) was broken long before Snyder and Co. were elected — and yes, Ypsilanti likely was headed for a budget breakdown eventually, anyway.

        However, instead engaging in a rational way to try to develop a better, more sustainable model funding model, Michigan Republicans are working hard to make things even worse — by pouring on heaping dose of the same failed policies that created this problem in the first place.

      10. Slam Jam
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        I think they should raise the sales tax to 8 per cent or even 10 percent and leave it at that.

      11. TaterSalad
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Michigan Unlimited Personal Injury Costs ranks the highest in the nation. This needs to be corrected by legislation immediately. Please write your representatives and demand corrections:

        http://autos.yahoo.com/articles/autos_content_landing_pages/1780/auto-insurance-costs-where-does-your-state-rank/

      12. Posted March 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        @karen – the city could lay off the entire planning staff (1 full-time & 1 part-time person) and they would not save enough money to cover a single police office or firefighter, if I remember the numbers. When the Council & City Manager say that police & fire are the only places in the budget where cuts can make any difference, they ain’t lying – all the other cuts have already been made.

        Besides, as it was once put, a city that eliminates its planning department is declaring that it has no future. Developers and new businesses want to be able to talk to somebody who can answer their questions and handhold them through their process – if we can’t offer them that, we lose out to the communities that can.

      13. TaterSalad
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Our government and the American “Piggy-Bank”…..the taxpayers!

        http://biggovernment.com/csykes/2011/03/22/government-treats-the-taxpayers-like-a-piggy-bank/

      14. Kim
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        From the annarbor.com article:

        “According to League for Human Service’s statistics, families currently earning $15,000 to $32,000 pay 10.1 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while those earning over $365,000 pay 5.6 percent.”

      15. dp in ypsi
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        I found this event to be disappointing. I was hoping to hear solutions and counter-proposals to the Governor’s budget, and maybe even a complete alternative budget proposal initiated by Sen. Warren, but this turned out to be a pep-rally for Washtenaw County Democrats. Not that pep-rallies for narrow interest groups are a bad thing, but by my count there were at least 170 people in attendance. All these people were asked to do was the normal and customary: write the Governor, write your Representative, write a Letter to the Editor, etc. Of the 170 in attendance, I recognized many as supporters of Sen. Warren. Attendees were told again and again by Mayor Paul Schreiber, and other panelists, to register their discontent with their Representatives. As residents of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, this means they will be calling Rep. Irwin and Rep. Rutledge. Unfortunately, this does nothing to change the situation in Lansing, as it’s fair to presume that the Washtenaw County Democrat Delegation to the House and Senate are pretty much on the same page regarding opposition to Gov. Snyder’s budget. They are firmly in the minority and have published no real plan to do much other than explain how bad things are. The people they should have been asked to contact are Representatives and Senators in Republican districts, better yet, business owners, family and friends in those districts who actually vote.

        In other words, 2.5 hours were essentially wasted preaching to the choir with no meaningful call to action or plan to focus the energy. Write an LTE to annarbor.com- that will do a lot of good. Call Rep. Irwin to tell him the same stuff he already hears from everyone else in Ann Arbor- highly effective. Write Gov. Snyder to tell him you are upset- dude is a Republican and probably won’t back down unless faced with overwhelming force, even then he’s more likely to double down than fold. Panelists seemed to be speaking to convince an audience in Livonia, or Plymouth, when instead their own people from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti showed up.

        Prof. Howard Bunsis from EMU was undoubtedly the crowd favorite last night. He was funny, personable, to the point, and veered off-script when it was necessary to make a point. Had he made a call to action to support a PAC devoted to un-electing freshman tea party Republicans, he probably could have raised $20,000, with ease.

        Sen. Warren’s speaking skills and passion for education issues are without doubt, but her event missed the target. She had press, a good crowd, and the symbolism of utilizing the same theater that the Governor just used, and all for naught.

        Recently I was asked what I would like to see Democrats doing differently, as I’m no booster for the Democrat Party that helped create this mess to begin with, I’ll keep the list short.

        1.Propose a counter budget. Snyder set the baseline for what he wants, and some of it seems a little crazy. Dr. Bunsis made some catchy points last night, for example, that the budget is designed to grow prisons, not higher education. In a previous post I noted that Rep. Rutledge was “dismayed” and Rep. Irwin was resigned to complain about the budget, and now Sen. Warren has done much the same. It seems like a better use of time to propose and defend alternative proposals rather than only be seen as complaining in public.

        2.The proposal of a counter budget lays the groundwork for the need to run a ballot question that would allow for a graduated income tax. Democrats are not good at framing an argument, or arguing vociferously in favor of it, so at least set the table to say, “The Governor passed his budget with terrible consequences A, B, and C. Michigan voters are willing to pay for services they believe in, 46 other states implemented a graduated income tax to tell the wealthy to pay their fair share, Michigan needs to do the same or A, B, and C are here to stay.”

        3.Grab the spineless colleagues in your own caucus, smack them around a bit, and tell them they are in Lansing to stand up for Michigan, not get all wishy-washy worrying about re-election. If they do the work, frame the discussion appropriately, and quit complaining, chances are their constituents will take notice and re-elect them without hesitation.

      16. Elf
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for taking the time to document our descent into despotism.

      17. Brandon
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        At the risk of getting some unpopular comments directed my way, I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Synder for taking the unpopular move of proposing taxes on pensions, cutting spending, and trying to eliminate the state’s we-know-best-so-we-will pick-economic-winners-and-losers development strategy.

        I’m not sure all of Synder’s proposals will go through, but I do not see why public workers shouldn’t pay more for their health care. Twenty percent is a standard in the private world. And encouraging shared services among municipalities is a good thing.

        Look, Michigan used to be a rich state. It’s not anymore. It’s a poor state. Census figures show many people in Michigan lost real income in the last decade, and many do not have a job.

        Continuing the policies of status quo won’t work, although you are seeing the entrenched interests fighting for yesterday at the capitol.

        I voted for Granholm, but even the most charitable toward her have to acknowledge that she was unable, or unwilling, to propose the type of changes that the state needs.

        I think Synder deserves time and deserves not to have himself called the destroyer of the middle class. If the status quo as we know it is allowed to continue in Michigan, there will be no middle class.

      18. Ecklet Torna
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Rick would lose if election were held again today:

        http://thinkprogress.org/2011/03/22/poll-supports-collective-bargaining-amendment/

      19. JSam
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Snyder’s approval rating has crashed now that the emperor has no clothes.
        33%.
        When Granholm left office her approval rating was
        34%

        The rest is here:

        http://www.freep.com/article/20110322/NEWS15/110322060/Michigan-Gov-Rick-Snyder-s-approval-rating-deflates?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

      20. JSam
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Oh and advertisements on tv and radio pushing Snyder’s tactics begin this week …..courtesy of Yob and Company. The rich will do anything to stay that way.

      21. Glen S.
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        It looks like the more Michigan voters learn about Snyder and his proposals, the less they like him — and them. A new poll out today, by Public Policy Partners (PPP), suggests that Michigan voters:

        * Would choose Bernero over Snyder by 47% to 45%, if the election were held today.
        * Favor collective bargaining rights for public employees, 59% to 32%
        * Favor a constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining rights, 49% to 37%
        * Oppose the so-called “Emergency Financial Manager” law, 50% to 32%.

        In addition, this poll suggests that Snyder’s “favorable” rating has fallen dramatically (particularly among independents), and now stands at 33% — one point lower than Jennifer Granholm’s favorable rating when she left office in December, 2010.

        http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_MI_0322925.pdf

      22. EOS
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Kim,

        Your hypothetical family making $15,000 pays $1515 in state and local taxes, while the family earning $365,000 pays $20,440 for the very same level of services. Have you ever questioned whether it is right for a store in Ypsi to charge the same price for goods to all customers, regardless of income?

        Glen,
        Instead engaging in a rational way to try to develop a better, more sustainable budget model, Michigan Democrats are working hard to make things even worse — by pouring on a heaping dose of the same failed spending policies that created this problem in the first place. Why not encourage local politicians to work on a budget that provides the best level of services that our current revenue will allow?

      23. Posted March 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Government services aren’t like convenience stores, you moron.

      24. dragon
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Ecklet Torna
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm

        Rectal Token?

      25. Edward
        Posted March 23, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        The problem is, only a dozen people have watched your videos, while multiple hundreds of thousands are watching videos about Chris Brown smashing a window at Good Morning America. This is the America we live in.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlCmrRdMsKk&feature=

      26. Redleg
        Posted March 23, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Right on, Ed! We have been truly fucked ever since “American Idol” could pull more “votes” than our elections….

      27. Tom
        Posted March 26, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        I like dp’s suggestion that Dems could have drawn up their own alternative proposal, brought it to the people, and drawn a whole lot of support for it.

        I’m also interested in a growing trend toward participatory budgeting:
        http://www.participatorybudgeting.org/

      28. TaterSalad
        Posted March 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Coming to __________ within the next 4 months. No more “auto-matic” Union dues deductions!

        http://weaselzippers.us/2011/03/26/florida-house-approves-bill-banning-automatic-deductions-for-union-dues-members-must-sign-off-on-political-contributions/

      29. Alfie
        Posted April 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Less money to feed kids, buy lap dances.

      30. Elise Snozen
        Posted April 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        State Rep. David Rutledge, D-Superior Township, is inviting residents to join him and other Ypsilanti-area officials at a town hall discussion about how the state budget will affect them.

        The discussion will include information about the latest budget proposal between Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leadership, the details of which were finalized on Monday.

        The event will be at 6 p.m. Friday at Second Baptist Church, 301 S. Hamilton St., in Ypsilanti. The meeting is co-hosted by the Ypsilanti City Council.

        Panelists will include Ypsilanti Public Schools Superintendent Dedrick Martin, Ypsilanti City Manager Ed Koryzno and Rutledge.

      31. Elise Snozen
        Posted April 15, 2011 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        State Senator Rebekah Warren has confirmed that she will be at tonight’s meeting as well.

      32. Elise Snozen
        Posted April 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        There’s been some positive movement on the Earned Income Tax Credit.

        This is from the FREEP:

        A new change agreed to in Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to overhaul Michigan’s tax code would restore a portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor, administration and legislative officials said today.

        The administration has agreed to give EITC-eligible income tax filers a $25/child credit, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said in testimony before the House Tax Policy Committee.

        Coupled with changes to Snyder’s original proposal announced last week that more narrowly target the Homestead Tax Credit to low-income filers, the revised proposal would provide about $100 million in payments to the working poor.

        That would offset the approximately $374 million in income supplemental payments to EITC-eligible taxpayers that would have been lost under Snyder’s original proposal.

        Tax Policy Committee Chairman Rep. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac, who worked with administration officials to address the loss of the EITC, said the change would “mitigate the problem” created by ending support for the working poor.

        http://www.freep.com/article/20110420/NEWS15/110420038/Gov-Rick-Snyder-agrees-restore-part-Earned-Income-Tax-Credit?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

      33. Glen S.
        Posted April 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        I just returned from Ann Arbor, where I was one of approximately 3000 people (my estimate) who turned out to protest Governor Snyder, who was at Michigan Stadium to address the University of Michigan’s 2011 graduating class.

        Some highlights:

        – At approximately 8 a.m., as people were filling the bleachers of the Pioneer High School football field, folks were entertained by the “Koch Brothers,” two actors wearing tuxedo jackets and top-hats, joking about how Snyder had been “one of their better purchases,” and singing “This land is my land, this land is MY land …, etc.”

        – As the crowd grew, it became clear that red was the color of the day, with many of the union members in attendance encouraged to wear red t-shirts, jackets, hats, etc. There were many people of all ages, including many families with small children, and many carried pre-made and homemade signs.

        – At one point, a plane began circling overhead, pulling a banner sponsored by the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council, which read, “Governor Snyder: Some Cuts NEVER Heal” … which brought a big round applause.

        – At approximately 8:30 a.m., the formal program of speakers kicked off, including State Senator Rebekah Warren, UAW International President Bob King, former U.S. Representative Lynn Rivers, and many representatives of local unions including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Michigan Federation of Teachers, U-M Graduate Employees Organization, fire department unions, police unions, etc.

        – As speaker after speaker detailed the terrible impacts of Snyder’s policies on education, the environment, the poor, working people, etc., a “theme” began to develop many of them would ask the rhetorical question, “Is that right?” and the crowd would chant back, in unison, “THAT’S NOT RIGHT!”

        – At one point in the program, Alexie Salazar, a 5th-grade student from Haslett, Michigan spoke to the crowd about the importance of supporting education,about how she is worried how budget cuts might impact her dream of studying to be a zoologist, and asking why the Governor doesn’t seem to understand why these cuts are such a bad idea. Then, at the end, she held up a sign that read: “Governor Snyder, Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?”

        – At around 9:20 a.m., the formal program ended, and the crowd began lining up for the march to Michigan Stadium. There were so many people that — as the first protesters began arriving at the Stadium (at the Corner of Main Street and Stadium Boulevard.) there were still protesters leaving Pioneer …

        – Once the bulk of the crowd neared the stadium, they were directed by “Protest Marshals” to form two groups, once forming a long loop on the sidewalk on the Main Street side of the stadium, and other other along Stadium Boulevard.

        – I cycled back-and-forth between both contingents … enjoying the overall atmosphere, as well as the many clever signs. Various chants would ebb and flow throughout the ever-moving crowd, among the most notable were: “Hey-hey, ho-ho, plutocracy has got to go,” … “What does democracy look like? THIS is what democracy looks like!” … “Money for jobs and education … end the wars and occupation!,” etc. But, by far, the most popular chant was the simplest and most direct: “RE-CALL RICK!”

        – At some point, around 10:15 or so, word was spread by the “Marshals” that Governor Snyder was about to speak. At that point, virtually the entire crowd turned toward the wrought-iron fence and began loudly chanting “RE-CALL RICK! RE-CALL RICK!” with the sound echoing back from the brick walls of the stadium. After a few minutes of this (and just about I got the sense the crowd was beginning to tire of chanting) two young women from inside the event ran up to the fence to tell us that we were, indeed, being heard by the folks inside. This news spread among the protesters, and our chants grew even louder.

        – Before long, word began to spread that Snyder was through speaking, and the crowd began assembling near the corner of Main and Stadium, preparing to wind down the protest. As the crowd began snaking its way back toward Pioneer, the Ann Arbor Police blocked traffic (as they had earlier) so groups of protesters could safely cross the intersection, and I saw many people shaking hands with and thanking individual police officers for their assistance.

        – Overall, I’d say the prevailing “mood” of the event was very peaceful, and even somewhat festive. While it is hard to know what impact, if any, this event may ultimately have, I think it was good to see so many people showing up to express their objection to Snyder, the Republican majority, and these disastrous tax and budget cuts.

        – While I didn’t really get a chance to take any decent pictures during the event, local (Ann Arbor) blogger Chris Savage (who I recognized, and had a chance to meet this morning) has some good pictures, along with some additional reporting and commentary on his site, “Eclectablog” at: http://www.eclectablog.com

      34. Peter Larson
        Posted April 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Communists.

      35. Boy O Boy
        Posted April 30, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

        EOS “Your hypothetical family making $15,000 pays $1515 in state and local taxes, while the family earning $365,000 pays $20,440 for the very same level of services. Have you ever questioned whether it is right for a store in Ypsi to charge the same price for goods to all customers, regardless of income?”

        EXACTLY!!!! Can you think of any business where a 1 percent stakeholder gets the same vote as a 50 percent stakeholder? It’s no wonder we are screwed! How cool would it be to move elections to April 15 and have votes tallied based on income?

      4 Trackbacks

      1. [...] you’ll recall, a couple of weeks ago I posted some video here of State Senator Rebekah Warren commenting on Governor Rick Snyder’s Emergency Financial Manager Act. Warren noted, among other things, that there was no requirement that those emergency financial [...]

      2. [...] What, if anything, has changed since you addressed the community at Rebekah Warren’s WCC event a few months ago? Is there any good [...]

      3. [...] Warren’s press conference, please leave a link… In the meantime, here’s a link to some video I took of Warren earlier this year, when she was talking at Washtenaw Community College about our Governor’s then proposed [...]

      4. By Webmaster on December 27, 2011 at 7:30 am

        I generally remove the spam comments from this site, but I found this one, while incredibly offensive, to be of interest, as it was submitted in the thread about the Snyder budget and what it means to less fortunate Michiganders.

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