The good, the bad and the ugly of Snyder’s budget

Let us all face facts: Gov. Rick Snyder is up for re-election.
Feb 14, 2014

So that means this year’s proposed state budget is all about playing up to the voters. And play, he does.

Here’s a rundown of some of the key points to his budget — the good, the bad and the ugly.

First, the good:

• Allocating $14 million over the next two years to help stop or control invasive species that threaten Michigan’s plants, wildlife and waterways. This makes sense, but we have to wonder who, exactly, Snyder has in mind for the 16 positions that would be added to three state departments to achieve this lofty goal. Nevertheless, this is certainly a hot-button issue for most voters, and will hit the jackpot of goodwill with most.

• Paying $65 million to free-up 16,000 more publicly funded preschool slots in the state to families who need the extra assistance. This is a sure bet to engender goodwill from those who believe better early childhood education will narrow the achievement gap between the rich and the poor. Nice move. Well played.

Now, the bad:

• Increasing funding to Michigan’s public universities by 6 percent, or $78 million. While this looks like an A on paper — hey, who doesn’t support our hard-working college kids? — it’s actually a tricky, and savvy, campaign move. Even with the 6 percent increase, state funding to these institutions is still below where it was when Snyder took office. Why? Because he cut funding in his first year in office — decreasing funding by about a third from funding levels seven years ago. So, wow, thanks for the token increase.

• Using $250 million from the surplus to fix and maintain roads and bridges. This also looks great on the surface, but then there’s that little roadblock of Snyder’s stalled proposal last year to increase the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fees to record highs to fix roads. So, if he’s putting a little bit of surplus money to this problem now, is he going to push through gas tax and vehicle fee hikes again if and when he is re-elected? This $250 million won’t meet the overall needs, and there will have to be a reckoning after election season as roads continue to crumble.

• Upping the funding for state-based K-12 funding by 3 percent, or $322 million. This really is a slap in the face of educators everywhere who have been trying to educate our youth on pre-2005-06 funding levels. The cost of everything has gone up and technology demands have skyrocketed since 2005, yet our schools have had to scrimp and cut to make ends meet for the past eight years. You’d better believe the $322 million divvied up amongst all of our school systems will not stretch nearly far enough. Our youth, and our educators, deserve far better.

And, now, for the ugly:

• Giving an income tax credit up to a whopping $1,200 to those with household resources — essentially income — below $50,000. Keep in mind the “up to” language, as the credit is less generous to those who make between $41,000 and $50,000, and more generous to seniors and the disabled. Definitely don’t spend this credit until (or unless) you receive it, as some politicians have called this promise a lot of hot air. Snyder’s opponent in the gubernatorial race, Mark Schauer, is reminding folks that they’re paying higher taxes because of Snyder. What makes this credit really ugly is the fact that it’s pure politics and all about pandering for votes.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

ghjhs

Trickey Rickey,just another weasele Republican, bough and paid for by De Voss and his rich friends.Our State still ranks as one of the States at the bottom in jobs.

Barry Soetoro

Don't forget education.

Former Grandhavenite

Speaking of invasive species, I'd like to see the Asian carp situation become more of an issue in this campaign. I'd like each candidate to explain their plan for closing the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. What approach will they take toward convincing the Illinois, Chicago, and federal governments that we need to defuse this ticking time bomb?

Alternatively, how would they feel about mobilizing an elite commando unit of the Michigan National Guard for a black op deep within enemy territory?

BucCrazy

So increasing education funding, after several years of cuts is a bad thing? Protecting our lakes and giving tax cuts to the working class. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you wouldn't like him no matter what he does?

suppresst

You said it.

This surely reveals an affinity for school spending on the part of Tribune editorial staff. I do recall that spending was cut because tax receipts had plummeted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. So, now, as we claw our way back, funding is to be restored to where it would be as if nothing had ever happened?

suppresst

My magnifying glass is broken. Surely if it wasn't I would find the place in this opinion where it asks why teachers did not, and were not asked to, accept salary cuts as we waded through the Valley of Fiscal Crisis in the wake of 2008 financial crisis.

castthefirststone

MICHIGAN CAN THANK GOD FOR RICK SNYDER, HE AND HIS FELLOW REPUBLICANS WILL SAVE THE STATE THE WORLD AND THE NATION OF THE SINS OF DETROIT'S HAND OUT AND UNION SELLOUT BY DEMOCRATS FOR SIXTY YEARS, GOD GRANT US THE POLITICAL SMARTS TO VOTE REPUBLICAN FOR EVER AND EVER AND NEVER GO BACK TO HAND OUTS AND GIVEAWAY TO UNIONS OF THE DEMOCRATS, NEVER EVER AGAIN. . . .

suppresst

Good post but could be improved by "Vote conservative, not Republican"

Madmax12

Snyder has done wonders for Michigan and every aspect of its growth and rebound have been displayed on national TV, even though 95% of these outlets are heavily liberal leaning. Of course they give credit to the Owebama for this due to his auto extortion payout, but this had nothing to do with the great success the Synder team has done! Our last Governor was and is as clueless as Nanci Pelosi and Harry Reid. She destroyed Michigan and Detroit with her pathetic lack of political knowledge and managerial skills. Thank God we have this nerd to carry Micigan for 4-more years!

suppresst

"Owebama" - I haven't seen that one yet. Very good!

Lanivan

I wonder if you fellows know the following about Obama:

* Under Obama, the deficit has fallen from 10% of GDP to just 3%.

* The Federal deficit will shrink to $514 billion this year, and $478 billion next year, from $1.4 Trillion during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

* The Federal deficit has fallen greater than any time since post WWII.

* Health care costs, which have risen steadily over the last 20 years, have now changed course under Obama, and are slowly decreasing. This is significant as health care costs make up 24% of the Federal budget.

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