(Jessica Kelton is a guest blogger for Progress Michigan. She teaches economics and political economy at Lansing Community College.)
It looks like there may be another Tea Party showdown wild wild West style led by Governor Rick Snyder. After his legislative victory earlier this year slashing funding for schools, lowering taxes for businesses, and increasing taxes on the poor and elderly, Snyder is now ready to implement his austerity measures on a Michigan economy already hobbling along with high unemployment rates and depressed consumer demand.
Contracts for state employee bargaining units are set to expire September 30, and if these weary workers aren’t malleable enough to take more cuts to their income to meet the $145 million Snyder is looking to gut from expenditures, agencies have been instructed by the governor’s office to prepare to fire state workers.
Once again the public is offered a false choice – ideological budget cuts driven by the peculiar beat of the Tea Party or a shutdown entirely of our government. Either way, we are potentially looking at a progressive downward spiral of our economy.
If Governor Snyder is such a tough nerd, I wonder how he doesn’t realize that cuts to government jobs multiply painfully across the economy. Less workers staffing a state agency means less workers eating lunch at the hamburger joint down the street. Less diners at the hamburger joint means its owner will spend less this year on his family vacation, which further reduces local governments’ tax collections for the year as consumers clench their wallets in their pockets.
In troubling economic times when consumers and businesses aren’t spending, the worst thing we can do is cut jobs for the buyers and reduce sales for the producers by drastically reducing government spending. Until Governor Snyder and his Tea Party friends realize the actors upon which we rely in our economy for growth and stability are paralyzed, we have more trouble to come.