Sunday, September 16, 2007

Media story on tax battle

Needless to say, the big story right now is the tax battles in the democrat controlled house. Nick and Right Michigan are doing a top job covering this, and I recommend that site for the best updates

First, the Free Press report on this:

LANSING -- As midnight struck, a House vote to raise the state income tax 18% was still in limbo early today, nearly 10 hours after voting began.

The voting board, which never recorded an official tally, was wiped clean and lawmakers resumed efforts to reach the needed 56 votes, quickly reaching the 43 votes they had before midnight.


Majority Democrats said they were planning what could be a long weekend waiting for a handful of Republicans to join them in supporting increasing the income tax to 4.6%

Democrats had hoped Friday would be a day of decisive action to resolve the budget crisis and avoid an Oct. 1 partial shutdown of state government. It remained unclear whether the marathon session would solve the problem.

House Speaker Andy Dillon said he hoped for a bipartisan agreement -- by Sunday. Without Republican votes for a tax increase -- there had been none all day -- it would be a harder sell in the GOP-controlled Senate, said Dillon, D-Redford Township.

In a speech earlier on the House floor, Dillon implored Republicans to join the voting for a tax increase of up to $1 billion or more, even though his party has enough votes to pass the tax hike without its GOP brethren.

But Republicans held out, saying the Legislature had done little to curb spending, which Democrats promised to do. Sort of.

There's the key in bold. Dillon has enough votes in his party to get that passed. Yet, he's playing hardball because not only does he demand a tax increase. He demands that the democrats in tough districts get get out of jail free cards so they don't have to vote against their district. This isn't just about taxes. It about the democrats CYA effort. They want to cover their butts.

And what had been months of partisan wrangling, posturing and even name-calling over how to avert a $1.75-billion deficit was reaching a pressure-cooked conclusion, for better or worse.

The deadlock revolved around a handful of Republicans whom Democrats hoped to pick off for a vote to increase the income tax from its current 3.9%.

Rep. Dick Ball, R-Owosso, said that what seems fair to Democrats seems like political suicide to Republicans.

"We can't let Republican vulnerables vote yes and walk the plank," he said, "while Democratic vulnerables are protected."

Referring to the standoff, Ball added, "as my grandmother used to say, we have a mell of a hess."

This isn't Leon Drolet or Jack Hoogendyk saying this. This is Dick Ball. When you have Dick Ball, possibly the most fiscally liberal Republican in the house saying that, then there is a major league problem. It sounds like that these hardball tactics by Dillon and Granholm are hurting chances of getting a republican on board. Ball is probably their top target, as Drolet and the Michigan Tax Alliance are also closely watching their vote.

Now as for Dillon using the Senate as an excuse, that's bullshit, and I don't use that word often on this blog. Do you really think that a budget bill that passes the house will not be altered in some way in the senate - or vice versa? When that happens, the bill goes to a conference committee before going to another vote in the house/senate. The state house also has much more of a democrat majority than the state senate has a republican majority.

Now, the Detroit News

Nerves frayed, tempers flared and words were more heated Saturday as Republicans and Democrats in the state House -- which has met almost continually since Friday morning -- struggled unsuccessfully to find common ground that will balance the state budget and avoid a government shutdown Oct. 1.

They are trying to resolve a $1.75-billion hole in next year's budget that Democrats say requires a tax hike. Republicans, demanding budget cuts and government spending reforms, continued to oppose it.


Dillon could marshal an all-Democrat favorable vote -- they control the chamber 58-52 -- but he wants it to be a bipartisan proposal involving at least 10 Republicans. Furthermore, several Democrats are in politically dicey districts and could lose reelection next year if voters are angered by a tax cut. Fifty-six votes are needed to raise the income tax.

I think the News means tax increase, but the point is clear. Again, this is a CYA effort for a get out of jail free cards for democrats who want to raise our taxes against the wishes of we the people.

It's time for the GOP house to continue to hold the line against these political games by Andy Dillon, and to make Dillon use his people in order to raise taxes. I don't want to see a bi-partisan tax increase. If that happens, it's time for a bi-partisan recall effort, including tax increasing republicans. The recall wouldn't just be for increasing taxes, but for bailing out the democrats.


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TRIZNIK said...

I take issue with the comments in the Sept. 16 blog regarding my father, 85th District State Representative Dick Ball. On Sept. 15, the Detroit Free Press quoted my father as saying, "We can't let Republican vulnerables vote yes and walk the plank... while Democratic vulnerables are protected... as my grandmother used to say, we have a mell of a hess." Your blog response, to wit, "This isn't Leon Drolet or Jack Hoogendyk saying this. This is Dick Ball. When you have Dick Ball, possibly the most fiscally liberal Republican in the house saying that, then there is a major league problem. It sounds like that these hardball tactics by Dillon and Granholm are hurting chances of getting a republican on board. Ball is probably their top target, as Drolet and the Michigan Tax Alliance are also closely watching their vote." It is an exaggeration to classify Dick Ball as a "fiscally liberal Republican." My father is a conservative Republican who embraces the traditional values of the party, including fiscal responsibility and limited government. He owned and operated a successful optometric private practice for more than four decades, so he has substantial experience with business and taxes (probably more relevant experience than Leon Drolet and most of the members of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance). I have challenged Mr. Drolet and his peers to cite one specific state government program from which they personally benefit that they will relinquish in FY 2008 to help reduce the budget deficit and mitigate a tax increase. Mr. Drolet responded to me with accusations against state government employees, teacher unions, and the education lobby. We all agree that state government is bureaucratic and inefficient, but nearly every Michigan citizen benefits from one or more taxpayer-funded state government programs. It's difficult to achieve a political consensus on where to cut the budget without a willingness to make a personal sacrifice for the common good. My father recognizes that good-faith negotiation with the political opposition is necessary to achieve a reasonable consensus. I recommend that the executive and legislative leaders swallow their pride and work together to develop a bipartisan strategy that will make Michigan competitive for new business growth, beginning with a fundamental restructuring of government services that comprehends fiscal realities. said...

Thanks for the link.

Still nothing out of the House with 10 Dems refusing to represent the million or so Michigan residents they were elected to serve.

Oh, and Dillon's at a lobbyist sponsored golf outing raking in special interest cash this morning, so that puts a damper on progress too.


Bachbone said...

With due respect to Rep. Ball and his son, the "challenge" (above) to name a tax subsidized program that benefits someone which the beneficiary would agree to cut is a red herring. Rep. Ball has access to information the rest of us don't have. Give every voter a copy of the state budget in detail and I'll wager dozens of places to cut would be found. As just one example, the Secretary of State (SOS) wants to close one of four SOS offices in Saginaw County. Reasons for the closing have been provided, but Saginaw's legislative reps (from both parties) have been falling all over themselves opposing it, because it has been turned into a racial and victimology meme rather than a fiscal matter. (The section of Saginaw where the SOS office to be closed is heavily populated by blacks.) Taxpayers are constantly told the budget has been "cut to the bone," but even many liberal voters no longer believe that line. Taxpayers do, after all, still pay for politicians to give away college scholarships. When there is a billion dollar+ deficit, is that necessary? Surely Rep. Ball can find other cuts given his access to where the dollars are going.

Instead of seeking "political consensus" with liberals whose emphasis is on taxing anything that moves, perhaps Rep. Ball should act like the conservative his son claims him to be. Actions still speak louder than words.

George Bush claimed to be a fiscal conservative, too, and we know what that claim has turned out to be. Bogus!

TRIZNIK said...

I mean no disrespect to bachbone, as I trust the comments are well intended. However, I reiterate my challenge to each critic of Rep. Ball to identify areas for personal sacrifice that will benefit the state of Michigan. I admit this is a rhetorical exercise, as opposed to a red herring, because it demonstrates how difficult it is to distinguish between "government waste" and "essential services" on a personal level. Each of us is a member of a special interest group that benefits from one or more state government services. As the writer suggests, we could scrutinize the state budget in detail and easily find "dozens of places to cut" the services that benefit others, but it's harder to implement the personal sacrifices that are required during these lean times in Michigan. My father is making a good faith effort to balance the budget without eliminating services that he believes will adversely impact the quality of life in Michigan. Perhaps the definition of a conservative, according to the writer, is one who shuns negotiation with members of the opposition party (who have a different perspective on public policy) because this may lead to a "political consensus." My father is a successful businessman and a conservative Republican who values fiscal discipline. He recognizes the harsh reality of Michigan's economic challenges and his constitutional duty to support a balanced budget. You may disagree with his voting record, but he is worthy of respect for upholding his principles throughout the budget process, in contrast to many of his peers in both of the political parties. I will dismiss the pejorative comparison to George Bush without comment.