Legislative brain-blowing blame game is suicide


    Perhaps it is rooted in the fact that education, prized by the entire world, has not been a funding priority in Michigan; perhaps it lies in the fact that Michigan is home to a population with one of the lowest education levels among all states, or that surveys of Michigan parents just a five years ago indicated they did not believe their children would need higher education to be successful in life. All facts that have led to the nightmare of the highest unemployment rate in the nation, dumb and dumber legislators, and further cuts in budgets for schools and for colleges and universities.

    The “shock” of yet further declines in the Michigan economy has not brought any intellectual talent of elected leaders to the table of problem solving, but proffered instead addle-minded, fear-based proposals that is certain body politic suicide for this state. It would appear legislators are the victims of all previous education insult.

    Last week the Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits an additional 26 weeks for workers who are enrolled in retraining or vocational programs (which is some indication that education is important after all). Further, the House extends unemployment insurance to part-time workers. And in the state Senate, Democrats pushed bills through committee to (further) abuse business with penalties if Michigan residents are not given priority hiring (even though those education levels are among the worst in the nation).

    • The Democrats say jobs and wages are the issue; not just any wages but “competitive wages.” First let’s ask who will provide jobs and wages: Michigan businesses? The same businesses are still reeling under a Michigan Business Tax already shown to have shuttered employers, an MBT further reducing what revenue any business has to hire an employee.
    • Legislators apparently still are not yet well enough educated to know the definition of “businesses:” small businesses employ 90 percent of all workers. “Business” is defined in this issue in the profiles of those who have been nominated by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce for recognition and awards this year — in the state with the toughest economy in the world (Michigan). “Business” is defined by those who won the top awards last week in the Michigan Business and Professional Association 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For/West Michigan, lauded for hiring, retention, human resources and employee incentive programs.
    • Michigan unemployment insurance (UI) is 100 percent financed by payroll taxes on employers. Michigan’s unemployment insurance fund is broke, and the state has borrowed $2.1 billion from the federal government to pay claims. The additional UI tax on “businesses” is further revenue reduction to businesses, on top of the MBT, considered by accountants as the most onerous and complicated tax in the world.
    • There could be no “sunset” date on UI tax increases to “business” under these circumstances and it is believed that UI taxes on businesses will double by 2011. State Reps Roy Schmidt and Robert Dean, both D-Grand Rapids, Mike Huckleberry, D-Greenville, and Mary Valentine, D-Norton Shores, all note in their joint press release celebrating the UI increase passage that the “global economic crisis” has caused the loss of “hundreds of jobs in recent years” yet advocate increasing the tax burden on “business,” reducing the revenues and reducing any chance “business” has to hire, escalating the cycle of joblessness.
    • The same “global economic crisis” has dried up business lines of credit to maintain current services, let alone expand (and hire). Many, many West Michigan businesses have closed this year for all the reasons indicated here. “Business” owners, too, are unemployed.

    It is not a matter of “business” versus workers. All are in this together.

    Award winning “business” is profiled in this issue; show it to a legislator lest we sign goodbye cards as they move across state lines.

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