We all know that cutting the state budget is not easy. All the easy fixes already have been done. So it was no surprise that a story in the Lansing State Journal that solicited think tanks and the public for money-saving ideas failed to turn up any easy things.
Although the story said that tax hikes were unpopular with lawmakers and the governor, the list included several proposed tax hikes -- switching to a graduated income tax, raising the tax on beer, taxing soft drinks, and so on. Not quite keeping with the premise of the story, I'd say.
But when it comes to other ideas that just aren't realistic, the right-wing Mackinac Center submitted some of the worst ideas. It suggested saving $333 million by privatizing the University of Michigan. Keep in mind that these money-saving ideas must be enacted by Sept. 30, for the budget year beginning Oct. 1. Exactly how could the university be privatized by then when the university is included in the state constitution? And is there any guarantee the public would approve a constitutional amendment privatizing the university?
The center also suggested privatizing local school district functions to save $50 million. But any savings would actually show up in local districts' budgets, not the state's.
Other ideas in the article -- get rid of all the state legislators and elect new part-time lawmakers. And exactly how is that supposed to get done by Oct. 1?