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Michigan Taxpayers Alliance Updates: September 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Battle lost. War on to be Lansing's biggest But!


I am no longer in Lansing. The battle to prevent a massive tax increase has already been lost and the tax hike will happen. Hanging out in Lansing is now a waste of my time.

I am now spending time every day preparing to support recall campaigns against key legislators who allowed this tax hike to happen. Successful recalls will change the way policy and tax questions are answered in Lansing.

Speaking of answering questions, the question that I hear most frequently asked by 'regular' people outside of Lansing is; "Don't they know what they are doing? Don't they understand what these tax increases are going to do to the economy? How can they not understand the obvious?"

The answer is that they do understand. When I served in Lansing, I frequently asked colleagues if they thought reforms, like eliminating the state's prevailing wage laws or becoming a right-to-work state, would help Michigan. Nearly every Republican and a few Democrats told me that they knew such reforms would help the economy, but they could not vote for them because the unions would harshly punish them in an election. Privately, legislators support education reform BUT fear the teacher union would punish them. Shrinking government spending is also supported BUT government employees would target legislators caught enacting such cuts.

I soon realized that the problem in Lansing isn't that politicians don't know solutions to our state's woes, the problem is the Buts. The Buts are the excuses politicians give for not supporting what they know is good public policy.

At first, I thought that I could beat their Buts by arguing that my colleagues could still win reelection even if they voted their conscience. Or that enacting solutions was more important than angling for easy reelection. But their Buts couldn't be beat.

So how can we, those who support reform and restrained government, prevail in Lansing? By joining the Buts. We need to change conversations in Lansing so that politicians are telling spending and special interests that they wish they could support the status quo, But they are afraid of the wrath of taxpayers! Organized taxpayers who successfully recall politicians who have increased taxes would make taxpayers real players in Lansing - positively impacting policy decisions by lawmakers.

"I want to keep up spending, But I am afraid of the taxpayers," are words that equal real change in policy.

So, fellow taxpayers, let us join together now in a unified quest to become Lansing's biggest But!

Leon Drolet
MI Taxpayers Alliance

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Granholm and Mackinac Center inch closer to budget deal!


At an afternoon press conference called by the Governor today, Granholm admitted to knowing hundreds of millions of tax dollars are wasted every year. This from Gongwer News Service:

“And she (Granholm) rejected the idea that the state could cut as much as $900 million or $1 billion from the budget, as some Republicans are calling for. She said the state could cut perhaps a little more than $300 million, but no more than that.”

Wow. Governor Granholm finally now admits that state spending has not been “cut to the bone” like she has been saying since she passed her first budget in 2003. That means that in the last five years, Granholm admits to have wasted $1.5 billion on stuff that she knows the state doesn’t really need.

This new admission puts Granholm closer to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s proposal to balance the state budget with $1.9 billion in suggested spending cuts. You can read the Mackinac Center’s full list of spending cuts here: http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=8798

I wish the Mackinac Center continued success in their education of the Governor.

Meanwhile, sources say that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop informed Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon that he would allow a tax increase vote in the Senate if Dillon would agree to support $1.2 in budget cuts. Dillon flat-out rejected the offer.

Speaker Dillon has allowed all House members to leave for the evening if they stay within two hours of the Capitol. Republicans in the House are holding strong so far, but Dillon is working over some softer Republicans every day. Your calls and emails are holding Republicans together as ‘NO’ votes on this tax hike. The vulnerable-seat House Democrats (called the “Yellow 10” for refusing to vote either way) are waiting to cast their ‘no’ votes on the tax hike, but only after enough Republicans vote ‘yes’ to get the tax hikes passed.

If 10 Republicans vote for this tax hike, meaning the most vulnerable Democrats safe to vote ‘no’, who is there left to recall? RINO season!

Recall 1983?

Leon Drolet
MI Taxpayers Alliance

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bishop to Queen 9


Tax – Hostage Crisis, Day 4. After a long, late weekend of intense, furious House inaction, the Senate convened today. And senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Hero?) has made his move: the Senate has passed a ‘continuation budget’ that would, for one month, spend money using the current year’s budget as the blueprint. But expected tax revenues wouldn’t cover this year’s budget, so copying this year’s budget would still leave a deficit. Basically, the remaining eleven months of the 2008 budget year that begins on October 1 would have to bear twelve months worth of cuts or tax hikes.

Now that the Senate passed the continuation budget, there is more pressure on the Democrat-lead House. Why? If the state government shuts down on October 1, it will be the House’s fault for not passing the continuation budget. This means more pressure on Dillon to get the 18% income tax through his chamber so that the House Dems can blame the Senate for not passing the tax hike and therefore, shutting down the government.

Bishop has made his move on the chess board. Dillon is on the clock.

Expect a long night of constant pressure and bribe offers by Granholm and Dillon to hunkered-down House Republicans – all of whom have so far refused to vote for the tax hike. Call and support them.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Taxpayer’s Alliance, along with Republican Party Chair Saul Anuzis, Americans for Prosperity, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and others are bringing support (and applying pressure) on House Republicans to hold their opposition to the tax hike.

The media is doing an ok job of covering the MTA’s efforts to defeat this tax hike.
From Saturday’s Detroit News: “Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet, a former state lawmaker and head of the anti-tax Michigan Taxpayer Alliance, watched the proceedings from the gallery. His group is threatening to launch recall campaigns against lawmakers who vote for tax increases.
"We've got phone calls being made, did a big e-mail blast to 100,000 people urging them to contact their lawmakers to urge them to vote 'no' on taxes," said Drolet, who brought the pig, nicknamed "Mr. Perks," to Lansing.”
Also from Saturday’s Detroit News, “The late night session had the elements of a slumber party: Democrats set up cots and brought in food.
But there were none of the high spirits of the usual sleepover: Anti-tax forces parked a trailer with a half-ton Fiberglas pig in front of the Capitol to illustrate what they call a greedy and bloated government. And firefighters, fearing further cutbacks in the state revenue sharing program that pays their salaries in many communities, parked a fire truck in front of the anti-tax pig.”
Full story here: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007709150369

From Saturday’s Detroit Free Press: “One of the most unpopular figures in Lansing on Friday was former state Rep. Leon Drolet, a Macomb County Republican who now heads the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance and who was responsible for bringing a big pink pig and parking it outside the Capitol. Drolet’s group has flooded some lawmakers’ districts with antitax mail, phone calls and radio ads and has threatened to mount recall campaigns against politically vulnerable legislators who vote for an increase.
Drolet said the effort to head off a tax increase had gone better than he imagined six months ago, but that he would not be shocked if the House approved the income tax hike.”
Full story here: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200770915001

On the lighter side, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernaro again attempted to block views of the MTA mascot pig, MR. Perks, by parking a fire truck in front of him. Mr. Perks beat the fire truck back again (the first attempt to block was on Friday), as the fire truck was again blocking the fire lane. For the photo of this little misuse of tax dollars, we have to link you to our very dear friends at MichiganLiberal.com: http://www.michiganliberal.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=10002

Media is starting to pay more attention to what is going on. The Frank Beckmann Show on WJR 760am radio from 9:00 until 11:30am is doing the best job covering this spending crisis among the electronic media.

Sorry for the length of this update.

Leon Drolet
MI Taxpayers Alliance