A number of times lately someone has said to me “either these Republicans are really smart or really stupid.” I think the latter is far more likely. I’d like to introduce two pieces of evidence to support the case for utter stupidity.
Exhibit A: Cities around the state are in financial trouble because both state revenue sharing and personal property tax collections are down. Some cities are in such bad shape that they have been taken over by emergency managers (a.k.a. city dictators). The fate of our largest city, Detroit, is now in limbo. Certainly no one in their right mind would suggest any legislation that would jeopardize funding to cities during these difficult times. However, Republicans are not in their right mind. Republicans are preparing to eliminate the personal property tax that businesses pay on their equipment. Eliminating the personal property tax would give businesses another 1.2 billion dollar tax break without having to meet any of the Governor’s famous “best practices.” Off the Record reported that Republicans may replace about 81% the tax money by eliminating some tax breaks. Even with an 81% replacement, the best case scenario, Detroit alone would lose almost a million dollars in revenue. Schools would also be negatively effected because they receive money from personal property tax. Some schools, like River Rouge, rely so heavily on the personal property tax that they might even have to close their doors as a result of the tax cut.
Exhibit B: The latest great idea to entice good people not to go into the teaching profession is Senate Bill 1040. SB1040 would force teachers to pay more for their pensions or move over to a 401k style retirement account. Retiree health care would also be reduced or eliminated. Some current employees could retire with their health care intact if they retire by, get this, June 1st! You know, a week or two before most schools get out. So the bill could force thousands of teachers all over the state to effectively drop out of school with a couple weeks to go. Genius!
Here is the best analogy I can come up with to explain this group of Republican legislators. Small businesses are like model airplanes while the state government is like a space shuttle. Republican politicians have built many model airplanes with varying amounts of success. This past election, frustrated voters gave these model airplane builders a tool belt and access to the space shuttle hanger. Since then, they have had their head under the hood of the shuttle tinkering away in hopes that they can make a machine that will allow them and their buddies to make fortunes building model airplanes. So now we are all hurling into space on a ship “reinvented” by a bunch of model airplane glue sniffers. I rest my case.