Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The state has a budget deficit of somewhere in the vicinity of $1.5 billion-$2 billion. On top of that, many say that the recently enacted Michigan Business Tax is a disaster and discourages small businesses from expanding and growing in our state, something that we need desperately for job growth.
I hope that new Gov. Rick Snyder will call us together and inspire us to work as one people, one Michigan in shared sacrifice to solve these problems. But instead, I am concerned that what is being discussed in Lansing is not shared sacrifice, but more likely budget cuts that will hurt the most vulnerable. If we have significant problems with our budget, I agree that we should be talking about ways to run our schools, our county and local governments, our institutions of higher learning, and our prisons more efficiently. I agree that we should look at social welfare and human services programs and see which ones work, fund them as best we can, and discard those programs that don't work, ineffective "feel good" programs.
But what concerns me is that almost all that I hear being discussed are cuts to programs that benefit or help the poor or disadvantaged. I am most troubled about discussions to eliminate the Michigan earned income tax credit (EITC), a tax benefit that helps the working poor. The average recipient of the EITC received a credit of $392 from their 2009 taxes, according to figures from the Michigan League for Human Services. In Berrien County last tax year, the average EITC family made less than $20,000 a year, far less. A tax increase of $392 for these families is not just.
One of our elected leaders in Lansing is fond of saying that we all need to take a "hair cut" in these tough times. I don't disagree. I just feel that families living on less than $20,000 a year have far less "hair" to cut than I and more affluent Michiganders do. And I think that we need to work together so that as Steve Miller sang in "Fly Like an Eagle" we ensure that we:
"Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, there's a solution"
The solution to Michigan's budget woes is shared sacrifice, not just cuts to programs for the poor.
Posted by RLB at 1:38 PM