Monday, June 6, 2011

'Making the Pie Smaller' -- The Latest Installment

Michigan Republicans, who claim they know all there is to know about promoting business, have once again shown that they don't. Once again, they've shown that they only know how to make the economic pie smaller, not bigger.

The latest evidence comes in two news stories. The first is the news that Howell teachers have agreed to a new contract that freezes salaries, increaess their workload, and makes them pay more for for their health insurance. All that and it still doesn't take care of the hole in the district's budget due to Rick Snyder's $470 per pupil cut in state aid to local schools. What it does do is make sure that Howell teachers have less money to spend at restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations here in Livingston County. That's less business for those establishments, less profit, less need to hire more employees. By keeping a surplus in the state school aid fund and forcing districts to make cuts, Snyder and his Republican buddies are hurting local businesses.

They aren't done, of course. The Lansing State Journal reports that next on the agenda is forcing state employees to pay 20 percent toward their health insurance. The same thing will happen statewide. At a time when the state treasury is taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in unexpected revenue, state workers will have less money left in their paychecks, less money to spend at businesses all across the state. The state constitution, however, hampers the Legislature's ability to do this unilaterally so Republicans are proposing an amendment to the state constitution to impose the requirement.

The justification for both these developments is that employees in the private sector always pay 20 percent of their health costs, so just because they're treated unfairly, public employees should be, too. In other words, let's spread the misery around instead of trying to make things better.

In the process, Michigan's economy will be made smaller than it otherwise would be.

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