Cross-posted on Right Michigan at www.RightMichigan.com.
Well that didn’t take long. The first full week of “lame duck” in the Democrat controlled Michigan House of Representatives and the majority party, emboldened by their big wins on election day, have already approved or set in motion more than a couple of tax hikes and special new spending projects because, obviously, Michigan families have way more money than they know what to do with.
Christmas presents, keeping the heat and the lights on, being able to afford a tire rotation as we get into the slippery season, pfah. The Democratic Machine runs the show now so your interests will have to take a back seat to their’s. And boy do they have a lot of them. Frankly, it’s tough to know where to start.
So I guess we’ll progress along the scope of yesterday’s Dem spending spree.
Lansing insider publication Gongwer reports that Democrats running the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee took up a four bill package yesterday morning that would double the licensing fees for construction companies. They faced stiff Republican opposition:
In addition to concerns that the fee would further depress the building trades, some Republicans also raised concerns that the fee increases would not make up the expected gap in the program’s revenue. Revised analysis showed the changes would bring in $180,700 for the current fiscal year and $726,400 in FY 2009-10.
But department officials said the program last fiscal year brought in $7.9 million and spent $10.56 million. But they also said much of the revenues to the program come from permits, so the licensing and testing fees did not need to make up all of the gap.
Expect the bills to be moved out of committee ASAP.
Next came the Great Lakes and the Environment Committee which defeated Republican opposition (the marvels of the Majority) to approve a package of bills mandating that retailers in border counties install fancy new reverse-vending machines to help regulate bottle returns. Call it the Inspired by Kramer package.
Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer loads up Newman’s mail truck with thousands of aluminum cans and hits the road for Michigan to make his fortune? The idea is that there are a lot of out-of-state bottles being brought into Michigan to scalp our one-of-a-kind bottle deposit law. (Note: This is what happens when your state does something stupid that every other state in the nation agrees is stupid and refuses to do.)
The program, if and when it is approved by the state House as a whole, will cost Michigan taxpayers millions on testing, retrofitting and enforcement and will almost certainly drive dozens of mom and pop businesses straight over the border or out of business entirely.
Of course, when they build those new stores and gas stations in Indiana and Ohio they won’t be using any of the Michigan construction companies that can’t handle a doubling of their license fees. They’ll have to use Indiana and Ohio companies. Does that mean Lansing just outsourced those jobs? Just asking.
Again, Republicans on this committee, not such big fans.
Hundreds of thousands here, millions there and the worst part is, the House was just getting warmed up as committees adjourned and the chamber met en masse yesterday evening. Their top spending priority of the night? A half-billion dollar gift from you to the city of Detroit. The Detroit News reports:
State House members passed legislation Thursday night that would allow creation of a convention authority to purchase Cobo Center from the city of Detroit and use a combination of bonds and taxes to pay for its expansion and operation.
…Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who had touted a $585 million expansion plan, called the action “a dramatically important first step.”
…The three bills passed with substantial opposition from Republicans. “The contents of this bill are unacceptable to Oakland and Macomb counties,” said House Republican Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi.
$585 million. Is that all? Let me go overturn my mattress and see what I can come up with.
I am frustrated and disappointed at all of this new spending and the skyrocketing taxes the House is sending our way, just in time for the holidays. But I’ll say this… I’m one-hundred percent impressed with how the new land speed record the Democrats set in getting started passing tax hikes once Election Day 2008 was behind them. They didn’t waste any time, that’s for sure.
And props, by the way, to the Republican minority in these committees and in the House as a whole. Here’s hoping yesterday was the first step towards some serious brand building.