Archive for the ‘Michigan Budget’ category

Yay! We found some money!

March 26th, 2008

So, a few months ago Michigan’s government shutdown for a few hours because we couldn’t pass a budget, we got back online, and then magically discovered that instead of just breaking even we ran a surplus this year.

Hobos pay better attention to their finances than these guys.

Anyway, it looks like state universities are going to get a 3% increase in funding this year. Guess we found some extra money for them after all.

Now, here’s where I do a double take:

Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm wants to base the increase on factors such as how much research is done and how many students graduate. That formula would give some schools more than 6 percent more and others just over 2 percent more.

Well, mark this date on the calendar. I actually agree with a Democrat on matters related to fiscal policy! Giving the higher performers more money? Yeah, I’m all for it!

The Republican-led Senate prefers an across-the-board increase.

It passed the university spending bill 37-1 on Tuesday and sent it to the House, which will start working on university funding next month.

Based on that I have a gut feeling that 3% across the board was cheaper, or at least easier to compute. With the vote being 37-1 I’m leaning heavily towards easier to compute.

And, sadly, I’m OK with that. The legislature has already shown their epic inability to predict state revenue so if they want to try and keep their cost prediction models down to the level of 5th grade math on this matter that’s fine with me.

I can’t imagine the mess they would create if they actually tried applying mathematic models that required a high school education.

The Tax has been Axed

December 4th, 2007

Michgan’s service tax was repealed and has been replaced with a $750 million surcharge on the business tax.

This actually sounds like a much more business friendly idea to me, but it still doesn’t sit well. Why the fuck didn’t they do this back in April when the budget issues were first raised? Now businesses have been carrying on presuming they wouldn’t have to pay any such surcharge. A little lead time would have been helpful.

What also gets me is that the budget shortfall was $1.75 billion. Where the hell is the other $1 billion coming from? I don’t see any reports that they cut spending any further so it looks like we’re still facing a deficit which isn’t permitted under the Michigan State Constitution any longer.

Are we headed for another government shutdown or am I missing something?

At this point I’d be content with the State of Michigan pulling up the voter registration logs, figuring out what each individual person needs to pony up to cover the deficit, send out bills to those people, and call it the “You Elected Morons Tax.”

Fellow Michiganders, I say we make our mantra for the 2008 state elections “Not One Single Incumbent.” Let’s vote every one of these incompetent shit heels out and send a message. Sure, some of them are doing a good job, I don’t doubt that, but that message will make it clear that this nonsense must stop for any future legislator to have any hope of holding onto their position.

Ax the Tax

November 7th, 2007

I found this today on our company’s intranet: AxTheTax.com

It’s a movement to get Michigan’s new service tax repealed by referrendum if the state government doesn’t do it on their own, which is already underway.

So, I’ve signed up for a petition sheet and I’ll see if I can get a few signatures to send their way.

Lansing needs to wake up: Michigan is going into a recession. You can’t tax your way out of that. You have to cut costs just like we’re doing in the private sector. My employer just cut operating costs by about 45% in recent months. The proposed 2008 budget for Michigan is asking for $9.7 billion dollars. The shortfall is a projected $1.75 billion. That’s 18% of the budget.

That’s a tough cut to make, but it can be done. Hell “we” just did it three times over. Yes, some people lost their jobs. That’s unforunate, and I wish it wasn’t that way, but that’s what happens when you’re in a recession. I hope everybody landed safely in new positions.*

Now, here’s my proposal, and I know nobody in politics would touch with a 10′ pole. It’s things like this that I’m posting here that’ll forever keep me from elected office:

Take a look at the Health and Human Services budget. There’s $2.25 billion in there for “Income assistance” which I previously thought the amount spent in checks laid directly into the hands of people of low income, but taking a 2nd look at it a good chunk is for food stamps, child care, and things I’d hate to see people go without. But…

If we took $1.75 billion from there to cover the shortfall and used the rest for vouchers to move people into states that weren’t as fucked up as Michigan, where they could maybe get a better job, then we’d be in the clear. That solves the problem for the next year too.

Cruel? Hell yes it is, but that’s exactly what we do in the private sector. If you can’t bring enough to the table to convice Company A that you’re worth your salary they dump you and you’re off looking for Company B. Why not apply that at the state level? If you’re “overhead” for the State of Michigan maybe it’s time that you try being a citizen of Louisianna or Florida. You might actually be able to find a job there that’ll keep you off welfare. It’s a win-win-win situation if that works out. Michigan stops paying for your basic needs, you get a better job, and your new state starts using you as a revenue source! We’ll pay the moving costs too! That’s the kind of deal you won’t usually find in the private sector.

You know, the more I compare this to what happens in the private sector in my mind, the less cruel it sounds.

*: I’ve only made contact with one of the people laid off by my company and he found employment within days it seems. It was with one of our clients, working on the same project that they contracted with us to complete, and they’re directly across the street from us. He still comes over for lunch some days, so I think it’s safe to say that there aren’t any hard feelings there. Oh, and that client is still with us and kicking work our way, so that guy is still working with the same people in our company that he used to work with.

Followup: Michigan’s New Sales Taxes

October 4th, 2007

Just yesterday I wondered if the new sales tax would affect my company. I was in the office today and got a chance to chat with the owner about this. Our company’s lawyer’s take on this: He’s not sure yet either.

Figures.

Basically, IT consulting is covered, but there are excemptions here and there. It’s not clear if all of our services will be taxable, but it seems that some will be.

In totally unrelated news: I think the kittens have destroyed my laptop’s power cord. If true, this will be the fourth one I have lost to my pets. Little bastards.

Michigan’s Budget “fix”

October 3rd, 2007

So, part of the plan to fix Michigan was to increase the income tax. I’m not happy with this, but in all honesty “Welcome to Michigan: We only gank 4.35% of your income off the top” isn’t a whole lot worse than the previous 3.9%.

The real bitch is going to be expanding the sales tax to some of the services industries. I admit, I didn’t care too much about the issue because I trusted the media when I heard reports that they’d only be taxing a “few” services more. Then I see the list:

·Carpet and upholstery cleaning services

·Business service center services

·Consulting services

·Investigation, guard and armored car services

·Investment advice services

·Janitorial services

·Landscaping services

·Office administration services

·All of the following personal services:

-Astrology services

-Baby shoe bronzing services

-Bail bonding services

-Balloon-o-gram services

-Coin-operated blood pressure testing machine services

-Bondsperson services

-Check room services

-Coin-operated personal service machine services

-Comfort station operation services

-Concierge services

-Consumer buying services

-Credit card notification services

-Dating services

-Discount buying services

-Social escort services

-Fortune-telling services

-Genealogical investigation services

-House sitting services

-Social introduction services

-Coin-operated rental locker services

-Numerology services

-Palm reading services

-Party planning services

-Pay telephone services

-Personal fitness trainer services

-Personal shopping services

-Coin-operated photographic machine services

-Phrenology services

-Porter services

-Psychic services

-Rest room operation services

-Shoeshine services

-Singing telegram services

-Wedding chapel services, but not churches

-Wedding planning services

·Other travel and reservation services

·Scenic transportation services

·Skiing services

·Tour operator services

·Warehousing and storage services

·Packaging and labeling services

·Specialized design services

·Transit and ground passenger transport services

·Courier and messenger services

·Personal care services

·Service contract services in which the seller, in exchange for the buyer’s single payment, agrees to provide repair, maintenance, or replacement of 1 or more items of tangible personal property during a specific period of time, which services the buyer is not required to buy in connection with the purchase of tangible personal property.

·Security system services

·Document preparation services

·Mini warehouse services and self-storage unit services

Still with me? Good.

A former coworker shot me links today on this topic, as were both confused as to our status under “consulting services.” I must say, after following up I think the company that I’m employed with will most definately fall under that umbrela. We both work in IT (Information Technology) and we’re basically geeks for hire. You want a customized solution to problem X? We’ll build it! That kinda thing. This seems to fall under the larger umbrella of “consulting” accoring to the Michigan state government.

I could be totally wrong on this one. I’m sure I’l find out if I am, seeing as my employer will surely learn the ramifications of this legislation shortly as well as other people I associate with.

It’s easy to see what happens when your local dry cleaner needs to up your charges by 8% becaue of the law. Figure 6% for the actual tax an 2% for compliance. A pittance on a $30 bill, really.

What happens when you’re talking about a $150,000 deal? Yeah. Things change. You can’t really send your dry cleaning out of state, but you can damned sure send your IT projects out of state. What about the “use” taxes that are an extension of the sales tax? Will companies in Michigan that receive services now subject to the sales tax have to pay up on that even if they’re in Indiana? Or India?

I sure hope I read this thing wrong.

Michigan Government Shutdown

September 26th, 2007

So, I haven’t talked about this too much, but we’re getting closer to Michigan shutting down portions of the government. Gov. Granholm says it might start this Friday.

The idea makes me all giddy, quite frankly. Government gets too big, spends too much money, and poof it just goes away for a while. That’ll teach ‘em a lesson, right?

Then I see this:

Granholm said non-essential services will stop if a new budget is not in place. Among those services are state-licensed casino gaming in Detroit, sale of lottery tickets, distribution of packaged liquor, state parks, and welcome centers.

Emphasis mine, obviously.

More:

The state regulates liquor sales as well and once inventories are sold, customers won’t be able to buy any more. Beer and wine won’t be impacted.

Soo… if you’re one that enjoys themselves a little liquor, you might want to stock up for a month’s worth before close of business on Friday.

I wonder: Michigan recently deregulated the price of liquor. They used to control it but now they only dictate minimums. I wonder how long it would be before they started kicking up prices in response to constant demand but a limited supply?

Are you Fucking Kidding me?

April 7th, 2007

Dems’ budget plan puts lots on table

Also on the table, and playing a more prominent role Thursday, were expensive new programs, including $100 million for investments in Michigan’s downtowns and a $38-million proposal that would provide iPods or MP3 players for all Michigan students to use as learning tools.

What?!

We’ve got a budget deficit hovering above 600 million on the horizon and they want to buy fucking iPods for students?

It’s no wonder that the “tax and spend” label sticks to Democrats when they’re proposing shit like this:

State Rep. Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit, said many other tax proposals are on the table, including a 6% tax on some services and an increase in the income tax, which now is at 3.9%.

“I don’t think we’d rule anything out,” he said.

The Democrats in the legislature don’t want to rule out any tax increases? Shocking!

Right now I’m thinking that the idiots in the legislature need to take some notes from Gov. Granholm, whom I did not vote for, but feel pretty confident having her in office right now. Already she’s nixed $300 million and change from the budget reducing the deficit from 900 million to 600 million.

Kudos.

To fix up the final deficit she’s proposed a 2% service tax which she expects will give the state around 1.2 billion in revenue. Why the Democrats in the legislature want a 6% tax is beyond me, but then again, these are the idiots that want to buy iPods for kids.

My only beef with Granholm’s 2% tax plan is that she expects it to net twice the amount required to fix the deficit, which makes me wonder why the tax isn’t 1% instead of 2%.

However, it’s a damned bit more reasonable than a 6% service tax, possible raise on income tax, and a 4% tax on soda pop. Yes, there’s a 4% tax on pop mentioned in the article.

Michigan is quickly becoming the laughing stock of the nation.