In his Sunday column Tom Walsh opined that, although the Governor has put forward both reasonable changes in our tax structure and well-conceived cuts in spending, she’s avoiding discussing an obvious leak on our coffers:

That’s because Granholm’s budget — and most of the huffing and squealing in Lansing that followed — has failed to seriously address the elephant in the room. That is the structural cost we’re obliged to pay for the salaries, benefits and pensions we’ve promised to public employees.

Here’s the conundrum:

Michigan has regressed from being a wealthy state to a Joe-Average state and is now skidding rapidly toward the ranks of the poor states. But we pay our help — schoolteachers, prison guards and other public employees — as if we were the prince and princess of Monaco.

Walsh isn’t just engaging in run-of-the-mill teacher-&-cop bashing; his argument is backed up with solid numbers and good thinking, if hard-to-swallow conclusions. Go give it a read.

But the real elephant in the room — the one even Walsh doesn’t address — is this: Why does a mid-sized state (one whose per-capita income rates at 25th out of 50 states) have a full-time, bicameral legislature? We’re one of only 4 states with a completely full-time, large-staffed legislature. Furthermore, the two houses of our state legislature are redundant: whereas the U.S. Congress has two houses, one of which represents each state equally (each state has two senators) and the other proportionally by population (the House of Representative has between 1 and 53 reps per state,) both the chambers of our State Congress are proportionally representing the population, just from differently sized/shaped districts.

Of course, I imagine the chances of the state legislature deciding “we need half as much legislature” is a bit slimmer than the chances of them deciding “we need half as many teachers.”

sigh . . .

Dave-o is a frequent contributor to the Hugs video-cast. He unabashedly supports Poor Mojo’s Newswire, a blog of merit since 1905 — now available electronically!

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