Monday, February 20, 2012/The Macomb Daily
The state of Michigan’s economic automotive-inspired economic recovery has left the state gov ernment with a budget surplus estimated at $457 million. After a decade of austerity, the surplus is a most welcomed development, and the clamor about how to spend it is steadily rising.
Certainly, after decades where school budgets were cut and squeezed, Gov. Rick Snyder’s suggestion is a sound one.
We would certainly give some consideration to more support for Michigan’s public universities. Throughout the last decade, Michigan’s great state universities have served as beacons of hope for the state’s eventual recovery. The university systems also have served as vital economic incubators that have helped bring critical venture capital into the state.
At the same time, tuition costs at state schools have risen steadily. More support for Michigan’s universities would certainly help ease the burden on students, who are trying to obtain degrees, and their families. This used to be a state priority and should be again. It doesn’t do much good for a business to expand if it can’t find qualified employees.
Another priority should be to figure out a way to eliminate the tax on pensions that were imposed last year. A rollback of the tax on pensions should appeal to the Republican-led Legislature since it would redeem their oft-repeated pledges not to raise taxes. As it stands, having broken their promise once, Republican candidates promising not to raise taxes will ring hollow on the campaign trail.
Rolling back the tax on pensions offer Republican legislators a chance to rebuild their credibility after seeing it shattered by the tax increase they approved in 2011.
However, one recommendation on how to spend the budget surplus that has little merit is the proposal from Attorney General Bill Schuette which would be to hire hundreds of new police officers. That plan seems fiscally irresponsible and discards the financial discipline that has been instilled in local governments and local police departments over the past 10 years.