Monday, September 25, 2006

Best deception money can buy

We have been receiving calls concerning literature and calls that have been received from the Citizens for Education Committee . It is an indication of the kind of war chest being used against taxpayers. We wish we had a penny for every dollar that was spent producing, designing and distributing the literature that is very appealing to the eye and includes the, makes you want to hug them, pictures of happy students. Actually, the students in the pictures don't look like they need a thing. They have involved teachers. They look like they have the tools to learn. They also look like they are having a great time learning.

Unfortunately, this has very little to do with Proposal 5 which advocates maditory increases for education. In fact, the proponents of Proposal 5 are running a blatantly deceptive and misleading campaign indicating that the funding will improve our schools and make college more affordable. In reality, Proposal 5 never mentions student achievement or lower tuition. In fact, over 2/3 ($380 million) of the proposed $565 Million is designated for teacher pensions.

While the proposal caps pension responsibility at the district level, Proposal 5 transfers the responsibility to the State. The State's projected annual costs associated with the required retirement contributions will rise faster than inflation. To meet the education funding guarantees, adjustments will have to be made within existing resources or taxes must increase to raise general revenues. As a result of this, local districts could show less restraint when negotiating contracts.

If you want to keep the smile on your face Proposal 5 is not the answer.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Monkey business

The effort to place the SOS Michigan proposal on the November ballot is over. The Michigan Supreme Court has refused to consider the case after the ruling by the Court of Appeals. What isn't over is the determination to have the same or a similar proposal on a future ballot.

While I was attempting to get affidavits from those who had mistakenly signed twice for submittion to the court, I encountered some interesting situations. My first attempt was an address where the signator had died in January and signed the petition twice the following May. I was able to get the next two people to say that they had not signed twice intentionally. The next two addresses did not exist. The streets exist but the addresses did not.

Who would benefit from trying to sabotage our signatures? Certainly not SOS! That is why they collected what they thought would be a significant amount of signatures to compensate for the possibility of error - more even then other petition drives which had made it to the ballot.

Who would find it necessary to harass people who were collecting signatures? Who would have enough resources to copy over 500,000 signatures to a data base in such a short time to find enough duplicate signatures that they would not normally expect to find? Who would not want the voters of the State of Michigan have the opportunity to vote on the issue? Who would not want the people in charge? Because of the 65% approval rating among Michigan voters, special interest might have more to gain by stopping the vote from going forward.

We are smarter and wiser as a result of this effort. We will not let it happen again.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Don't make the same mistake

Don't make the same mistake in Michigan as they did in Colorado. The K-16 proposal can only hurt Michigan's economy. What is really significant is that Proposal 5 transfers primary responsibility to fund pensions to the state and does not make any provisions for decline in the economy.

According to the Citizens Research Council, "Over two-thirds of the initial additional costs to the State from Proposal 2006-05 arise from the provision to cap employer retirement contributions. This cost component represents a new financial obligation to the state budget and will steadily increase each fiscal year. The State's projected annual costs associated with the required retirement contributions will rise faster than inflation, thereby requiring policymakers to reconfigure state finances to meet the education funding guarantees within existing resources or to raise general revenues. "

As a result of this, local districts would have the opportunity to show less restraint when negotiating contracts.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

65% Support SOSmichigan

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. – Nearly two-thirds of Michigan voters plan this November to vote "yes" on Proposal 6, a statewide ballot measure that would eliminate state legislators' taxpayer-financed lifetime pensions and limit increases in state government spending to the annual rate of inflation plus state population growth unless voters approve larger spending hikes, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday.
Sixty-five percent of likely voters surveyed last week responded "yes," the Free Press reported, when asked by pollsters if they would support "a proposal that would do two things: First, halt any future contributions by state government to pensions for state legislators, and second, require voter approval for increases in state and local government spending above the rate of inflation."

Rose Bogaert of Dearborn Heights, Wayne County chairman of the YES on Proposal 6 campaign, said voters "are clearly fed up with politicians in Lansing and want more say in how our tax dollars are spent.""Just eliminating lifetime pensions for politicians will save taxpayers over $800,000 a year," Bogaert said. "Beyond that, Proposal 6 puts the people in charge by putting a reasonable, modest limit on how much government spending can increase every year and requiring voter approval first before politicians can spend above that reasonable limit."Bogaert said voters also agree with the Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, which endorsed the measure after 78 percent of Michigan NFIB members responding to an internal poll supported a "yes" vote on Proposal 6. "This poll indicates that voters overwhelmingly understand, as small business leaders have pointed out, that limiting the growth of government spending and taxes will help Michigan create and attract the new jobs we desperately need right now to support our families."NFIB/Michigan State Director Charlie Owens said in a news release endorsing the proposal, “I think small business owners sense a direct link between our state and local governments’ tendency to tax and spend at a higher level than most other states, and the fact that businesses are fleeing Michigan for better economic climates.”
The poll also found that 21 percent said they would oppose the proposal, the Free Press reported, while 14 percent said they were unsure. The poll was conducted last week by Selzer & Co. Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, which surveyed 803 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.Last week, the Michigan Secretary of State's office found that 80 percent of the over 500,000 signatures gathered statewide in support of Proposal 6 are those of valid registered voters, far more than the 317,000 required to place the proposal on the November general election ballot.The bipartisan state Senate Fiscal Agency reported earlier this month that Proposal 6 will prohibit pensions for future members of the Legislature, saving taxpayers $837,000 a year.
The proposal would also allow state government spending to increase each year, but limit that increase to no more than the annual rate of inflation plus the annual percentage of Michigan’s population growth. Lawmakers could increase spending above and beyond the allowed increase limit by placing a higher spending proposal on the ballot for voter approval. The proposal would also require local voter approval of all new city and county fees, assessments, and long-term indebtedness. The bipartisan Senate Fiscal Agency reported that beyond the $837,000 annual savings on lawmakers' pensions, "it is difficult to suggest any other direct fiscal impact that passage of the constitutional amendment would have on the budgets of state or local units of government.”The increase in this year’s state budget over the previous year, the agency reported, is actually less than the inflation and population growth limit the measure would establish. Supporters say that proves how reasonable the proposed limit is, and that its primary effect will be to ensure spending increases remain at a reasonable rate after Michigan's economy recovers.