As I’m sure many readers are already aware, the Michigan state legislature sent a series of emergency continuation budgets to Governor Granholm’s desk at around 2 am the morning of October 1, narrowly avoiding a shutdown of state government and sending the state’s services into what was essentially regarded the 13th month of fiscal year 2009. Four weeks later, we are still at an impasse, and the only real changes have been strategic ones.
The governor recently announced the necessity of a further series of cuts to education, bringing the total dollar value of cuts up to $289 per student if new revenues are not raised. Despite Majority Leader Bishop’s willingness to meet with Granholm, and the Senate Republican’s final decision to send the six budget bills passed by both chambers to her desk, his caucus remains obstinate on new sources of revenue. A proposed tax on physicians yielded a weak astroturf effort at lobbying Democratic votes from affluent districts, yet failed along partisan lines.
Granholm has vowed to exercise her line-item veto power and sign the remaining budget bills to make the necessary cuts to higher education, human services, and community health, among others – a scenario that looks more and more likely as Senate Republicans continue to kill new revenue ideas. But if she doesn’t do this by the end of the month, a deadline that has been firmly set for weeks yet now is just hours away, she would effectively be forcing state government into a partial shutdown until a compromise is reached and the 2010 budget is passed in its entirety.
Many observers are speculating that she will do this intentionally, as a means of forcing the Senate to pass new forms of revenue. This would be one hell of a political move, evoking images of the Daley family in Illinois more than Granholm in Michigan. It would be going back on her promise to sign these six bills once Sen. Bishop sent them to her desk, and it would make her directly responsible for the shutdown. Lt. Gov. Cherry may not be a supporter of this decision, since it is certainly not without risk for her entire administration, and he is the unquestionable Democratic frontrunner for the 2010 gubernatorial race. But if she is truly a supporter of the programs intended to serve as her legacy (the last eight years would seem to indicate that she is), the next few days should prove to be interesting at the very least.
Sources confirmed new breaking developments over the last few hours, exclusive to The Kosmopolitan. Wednesday, October 28, House freshmen drafted a letter to be sent to Governor Granholm, Leader Bishop, and Speaker Dillon asking that they stop playing politics and finish the budget. A response was sent late Thursday, casting an ultimatum: that freshmen have until December 1 to find agreeable new revenue sources from which to fund the deficit in the K-12 budget, for FY 2010 and into the future. This would seem to imply that lawmakers will be given until December 1 to fund other shortages as well, including the Department of Community Health and higher education. If this transitive assumption proves true, it is safe to assume that the Senate will pass another continuation budget, extending purgatory for the state another 30 days.