Polls show that most people in Michigan know there’s a budget crisis but haven’t felt the pain yet. While Michigan’s public services have gone through deep cuts, our political leaders have done a masterful job of managing Michigan’s decline.
They have done this by putting off the hard choices on reforming our state tax system, and there’s every indication that will be the case once again when lawmakers take us toward Countdown to Chaos II before deciding what to do about the state’s $1.7 billion projected budget deficit.
But the reality now is different than in 2007, the last time we were taken down this road. The Great Lakes State’s thin blue line of public services is unraveling in ways that people are beginning to feel in real terms.
Students and parents are facing higher college tuition costs. The state’s Promise scholarship program is on the Senate’s chopping block. So is aid to K-12 schools, where student aid cuts of $100 or more per pupil could mean larger class sizes and shorter school days.
Water protection programs are being abandoned wholesale by the state, there are fewer pollution cops on the beat, and it’s only a matter of time before Pure Michigan becomes pure baloney.
Townships are already facing slower response times to fight fires, and cops and Trooper cuts are likely.
Prisons are closing, convicts being released. How long before crime starts creeping up again?
And as Michigan’s thin blue line of public services begins disappearing, just how many businesses will want to expand here, relocate here? How many tourists will want to drive our roads, walk our streets, lay on our polluted beaches?
They all have choices about whether to invest in Michigan. So do we.