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Wednesday, February 23,2011

The Snyder budget

Whitmer: Governor’s plans don’t match rhetoric

by Andy Balaskovitz
Wednesday, Feb. 23 — State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, says Gov. Rick Snyder was all about reinventing Michigan through shared sacrifices in his State of the State speech and on the campaign trail, but his proposed budget says otherwise.

“When you look at the budget he has proposed and the rhetoric of shared sacrifice, the budget doesn’t really reflect that,” Whitmer said on “City Pulse on the Air” today. “His budget has winners and losers

Snyder’s plans include taxing pensions, cutting per pupil education funding by another $300, eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit, capping the length of time to be on welfare and stripping down tax credits for the film industry and brownfield redevelopment.

Snyder’s idea to eliminate the EITC is particularly egregious for Whitmer.

“This isn’t handouts to people that aren’t working. It’s a tool to help people that are working,” she said, adding that helping the working poor ends up growing local economies.

Whitmer said Snyder and Republicans who call the EITC a handout don’t “get it.”

“E is for earned, for people that are working. We have so much corporate welfare on the books, no one is scrutinizing that,” she said.

For those out of work, Snyder’s plan to cap the amount of time to be on welfare at 48 months is a “very dangerous precedent to set,” she said.

Whitmer added that she has a “hard time” seeing any Democrats voting for the budget as-is. That may not matter, as Republicans hold a super majority in the Senate and a majority in the House. But, she added, Snyder may have to work more on backing from his own party.

“I think he’s going to have a tough time with his own party on things he proposed. He’s going to push for everything to be adopted wholesale,” Whitmer said.

Instead of cutting so much from the state budget, Whitmer suggested to “scrutinize every tax expenditure on the books. If this tax policy is working, let’s keep it. If not, let’s get rid of it.”

Whitmer was also asked about the events in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker has proposed eliminating collective bargaining provisions for state employees as a means to balance the budget. Based on what she’s heard from Snyder, Whitmer doesn’t think he’ll go as far as his Wisconsin counterpart — for now.

“I think he (Snyder) has made some comments that would lead one to conclude he will not go there at this juncture,” Whitmer said. “Things can change quickly. At this point, I take the governor at his word.”

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