Try cutting costs closer to home

For years now, the Republican Party has marketed itself as the anti-Big Government party, and the “let’s cut the budget” party.

Democrats have been tagged the “tax and spend” team, while the GOP has long been the “let’s tighten the purse string” organization.

St. Ronald Reagan turned the call for less government and no taxes into a cry for The People — “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”

Shrink governance. Cut taxes.

We’re hearing a lot of that out of Wisconsin, and there’s been similar commentary coming out of Lansing, (if not a bit muted and somewhat edited.)


While Granholm was in power there was no hope for cuts and budgetary responsibility.

But now ... NOW there’s hope.

We have a Republican administration with a former businessman running the show.

Gov. Rick Snyder has announced to all and sundry that he will wrestle the budget into submission. His proposed budget is reflective of this promise with cuts across the board, and devastating cuts to some programs such as public education.

The man said he was going to do it. Now he has done it.

So ... here’s my problem.

I’ve noticed that when it comes to budget cutting and looking for savings, it’s really, Really, REALLY easy to look at everybody else’s budget, but not your own.

So, Gov. Snyder, if you want to cut budgets and minimize government, how about starting in Lansing before you start mugging everybody else?

Let’s start with the State Legislature - the second highest paid in the nation.

Legislators in Lansing make $79,650 per year with $1,000 a month to cover office expenses.

We have a bi-cameral legislature. Two houses — the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Why do we need two houses in the legislature?

Let’s say we leave the Senate, (with 38 members) and get rid of the House, (with 110 members.)

This would immediately affect a savings of $8,761,500. There also would be a savings of $1,320,000 in office expenses stipends. And, by the way, I haven’t even figured in the HUGE sum saved by not paying out benefits packages for 110 legislators — healthcare and the like. (Not to mention staff salaries and benefits.)

So, without figuring benefits there’d be an immediate savings of more than $10 million.

Now ... why do we need to be paying for a full-time legislature? There are only 11 full-time legislatures in the nation. Other states seem to get along just fine with a part-time legislature. Consider the savings of keeping only one chamber up and running in the Capitol building, and that only part-time.

Turn out the lights and send the legislators home. They spend an inordinate amount of time in Lansing plotting how to make the guys on the other side of the aisle look bad anyway.

Moving on. Why do we need a lieutenant governor?

He makes $123,900 per year — not including benefits.

Why can’t the senior majority member of the Senate, (or whoever), be the acting lieutenant governor?

If the governor keels over, the legislature-based lieutenant governor steps up to the chief administrative post, and a special election is held to fill the empty legislative seat.

I mean, really, Gov. Snyder. You’re the businessman.

Would you run a business with double the board of directors and corporate vice-presidents who really don’t have a productive function?

There could easily be something done with the Michigan Supreme Court.

Honestly, there are seven justices who each make $164,610, (not including perks and benefits.) Is a state Supreme Court really THAT necessary. If so, couldn’t we survive with five justices instead of seven?

And then, Michigan is the only state in the union with a state surgeon general.


What’s the purpose of that?

Someone else to tell me I’m fat? Another person to remind smokers that it’s not good for your health?

Heck. I could do that job ... and for far less money!

If our governor and his administration, with the enthusiastic support of the legislature, really want to cut budgets and save money, they should start WAY closer to home.

I know it won’t make that much of a difference. It’d save millions and tens of millions when I suppose we need to be finding billions of dollars someplace.

But, it sure would make them look a heckuva lot more sincere and serious.

Take a look at waste in Lansing, before looking at “waste” in other places.

When the call to school districts around the state is “consolidate, consolidate, consolidate” try a little consolidation of efforts down in the capital.

There is nothing, NOTHING down in Lansing that could be budgetarily hacked and slashed. Certainly not in the halls of the legislature or in the offices of the governor and his team.

We all will feel the budget cuts to our school districts.

Nobody would know it if one house of the legislature simply went out of business.

It wouldn’t make one bit of difference.