Opinion
10:16 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Snyder's budget seems to get better reviews from Democrats than Republicans

Here’s some pretty safe advice: If you go to a party and see someone who looks interesting, try not to say,

"Have you studied the details of Gov. Snyder’s latest state budget proposal?"

Unless you are with a bunch of politicians in Lansing, it's a pretty sure bet that you’ll end up talking to the potato chips.

Go ahead, they're listening to you.
Credit user Alsterdrache / wikimedia commons

Gov. Snyder’s budget is interesting, however, in a number of ways. There are two important things to remember, however. First, this is clearly the budget of a politician running for reelection.

That doesn’t mean he is only promising bread and circuses to the masses. But he is looking to sway undecided votes.

The other thing about this budget proposal is that it is simply that: A proposal.There is no guarantee – and in fact, very little chance – the Legislature will enact all of it. 

Remember the governor asking last year for a lot of new money to fix our roads?

Never happened.

This year, he’s not even really asking for more road money, except for a quarter of a billion to qualify for some matching funds. My guess is the biggest battle may be over his tax proposal.

Legislative Republicans, under heavy Tea Party influence, want an income tax rollback. Snyder wants an increase in the Homestead Property Tax Credit, which would be of most help to seniors, many of whom were stung by the pension tax increase. 

But Senate Finance Committee Chair Jack Brandenburg doesn’t think much of this idea. The governor himself said this budget was focused not toward the rich but, quote, “lower and middle income people, wage earners who are working hard.” 

Well, that’s not quite right.

If he had wanted to help the hardworking poor and boost the economy, the governor would have proposed fully restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, which he cut from 20% to 6% three years ago. Studies show the recipients tended to quickly spend that on necessities, which caused a multiplier effect to ripple through the economy. However, the governor said that would not have been "appropriate."

Perhaps the hardest to understand is why he included more money for poor kids’ Medicaid dental services in Kalamazoo and Macomb Counties, but not Wayne and Oakland.

Probably the most striking thing about the governor’s budget recommendations was a 6% boost in higher education funding, after years of cuts.Those state universities best beloved by Republicans, Grand Valley and Central Michigan, got the biggest increases.

Wayne State, not so much.

Naturally, the Democratic party chair and most of the unions denounced this budget before they’d even read it. Yet at the end of the day, Democratic legislators seemed to be more positive about much of this Republican governor’s budget than most of their GOP counterparts. However, the Republicans run the show.

And I wondered this: Why didn’t Mark Schauer, the Democratic candidate for governor, come forth with an alternative budget? Why didn’t he tell people what he would do differently with our money?

But Schauer didn’t,and everyone is talking about what Gov. Snyder wants to do next year.

Schauer badly needs to start getting people to notice that he’s offering an alternative. The first step might be getting them to notice that he exists.