Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lead, Follow, or Get out of the Way

Dysfunctional may not be too strong of an adjective to describe the workings of our state government over the past seven months. The state of Michigan has been operating with a huge budget deficit that looms larger with each passing week. And many many weeks have passed since the process to work out the new fiscal year's budget began.

It is not a good enough excuse for failure just because one party controls the House and the other party controls the Senate. These are adults who get paid quite well to manage and oversee state government. In a divided government compromise is the way to get things done.
Everybody shares their opinions, give and take occurs, and progress is made.

Holding the state hostage for seven months was rude and lame. As a Democrat, I could blame the Republicans. But I choose not to do so at this point. It is the responsibility of all elected officials to work together and find common ground. We should not have to have bullying, threats, and games played by our elected representatives and senators.

Michigan has plenty of problems to deal with, including high unemployment, declining industry and manufacturing, and rising costs for schools, universities, and prisons. We need to both raise revenue AND cut costs.

I worked closely with the state health department for 15 years, and I am well aware of bloated bureacracies, high staff costs, duplication of effort, and waste. For Democrats to refuse to include cost cutting in their budget plans is not right. And for Republicans to refuse flatly to raise any taxes or fees, and refuse to bargain or compromise, is absolutely irresponsible. For either side to play "chicken" and threaten a state government shut down is just sad.

On the Ferndale City Council, we five members do not always agree. We have differenct opinions, and our votes are often not unanimous. We dont even always like each other or trust each other. But at least we do feel we owe it to the residents and businesses in Ferndale to do our job, protect services, and maintain a responsible and balanced budget.

C'mon State House, State Senate, and Governor's Office. Get it together. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.