The Michigan Legislature is returning from its two-week spring break this week. There is much work ahead of them — specifically, the fiscal year 2011 state budget.
Most budget bills have passed one chamber or the other. Some contain cuts beyond what the governor recommended. Some rely on federal money yet to be appropriated. Some are tie-barred to loophole closure bills that have not passed.
As the Legislature struggles with the challenge of filling a budget gap of about $1.5 billion, there seems to be little political will or leadership to take a balanced approach.
A balanced approach recognizes the massive cuts that have already been made and tries to minimize future cuts. Such an approach includes meaningful reforms and also measures to enhance revenue.
A Better Michigan Future, of which the League is a member, has outlined a balanced approach for the Legislature to consider. The four-prong plan includes closing corporate tax loopholes, auditing state contracts, extending the sales tax to services and implementing a graduated income tax that would benefit 90 percent of Michigan’s tax filers.
We’ve tried a cuts-only budget and we’ve had the luxury of relying on substantial federal funds, but that is not a model we can continue to sustain. Increasing revenues has to be a key part of a balanced approach for our state.
We hope that lawmakers will see the wisdom and benefits of a balanced approach as they re-engage in the budget process.
— Karen Holcomb-Merrill