Michigan History
4:52 pm
Thu February 3, 2011

It's not the first time Michigan has faced budget challenges

Michigan lawmakers face the challenge of balancing a budget with a hole of around $1.8 billion in it.

Governor Snyder plans to submit a plan to the legislature this month, and it promises to leave very few departments untouched.

Budget issues are not new to Michigan.

Today, we explored some other difficult times in budget years past with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry.

Michigan Radio's Jenn White asked what led to the deficit we are facing in this year's budget.

Well, basically we took in too little money and we spent too much.

Most of the legislators and the governor left because of term limits. To some extent they've passed the buck. It's hard to make these decisions. Nobody wants to give up benefits, nobody wants to give up services and nobody wants to pay more taxes, but something has got to give.

In 1983, governor Jim Blanchard took office facing a $1.7 billion deficit.

At that the time we had a 4.6% state income tax. Blanchard asked the legislature to raise the state income tax to 6.35%.

This way very controversial at that time. The Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and they narrowly passed it. What people forget, is that it worked. It paid down the deficit. The taxes went back to the old rate, and by the time Blanchard ran for governor again, four years later, he was so popular and the economy was so good he won by an unbelievable landslide.

You can listen to the entire interview with Jack Lessenberry here:

Mercedes Mejia - Michigan Radio Newsroom