Following hot on the heels of the action in the Senate last week, the continued intransigence of the House and the way Governor Granholm became completely unhinged there’s been more and more discussion about just what exactly we CAN cut and just what exactly we CAN reform in Lansing to make sure these budget deficits don’t happen in the future and more importantly, to prevent the radical left from picking our pockets and robbing us blind.
Last week at RightMichigan.com we broke the story and were the first to unveil the Senate GOP reform lists. This generated some talk in the MSM. Gongwer referenced Right Michigan and MIRS talked about the lists as well.
But more than that it generated some discussion on the site and about three metric tons worth of email about other potential savings that didn’t make the Senate list. We’ve gone over most of the savings that are out there thirty or forty times but it’s always been piecemeal. A reform here, a chance for savings there. I figure it’s about time to get them all collected so bloggers, lurkers, readers, voters, residents, citizens, taxpayers, families, legislators, local elected officials and anyone else I may have missed can see the enormity of the potential for real savings in Lansing.
All of that said, this list is certainly NOT exhaustive. If there’s anything I’ve clearly and obviously missed post it after the story and we’ll keep the list growing. Any other ideas? Let everyone know!
So without further ado, potential savings and reforms to state government that will balance the budget without job-killing tax increases include:
Reform eligibility and work requirements in welfare to be more in line with our surrounding states and the national average: est. annual savings of $30 million.
Limit welfare to 2 years for able-bodied adults.
Medicaid reform: est. annual savings of $60 million.
Prison reforms (aside from employee wage concessions): est. annual savings of $200 million from targeted privatization and reforms to address recidivism.
Tether all 65 year old non-violent prisoners and put them out on probation.
Tether non-violent criminals and charge them to be out on a tether.
Seek wage concessions in corrections to bring us inline with the national average instead of releasing felons: est. annual savings $150 million.
Senate GOP Public employee healthcare and retirement reform: est. annual savings of $220 million.
Privatize the public employee pensions: cash out pension fund and change them to a 401K.
Define contribution for all state employees/teachers.
Change healthcare benefits for state employees 65 years old over to Medicare. </strong>
Consolidate Departments- HAL/DIT/DNR/DEQ: est. annual savings $3 million if consolidated.
Suspend state worker raises for `08: est. savings $109 million.
Agree to suspend prevailing wage on all public projects when our unemployment rate exceeds 20% of the national average: est. savings of $150 million.
Cut executive travel expenses: est. savings $11 million.
Eliminating barriers to consolidation (SB 550 & 551, Sen. Garcia): Clarifies statutes to provide that when local units of government choose to consolidate or transfer services that the highest wage and benefit package of the two units does not have to be paid.
PA 312 Reforms (Language being drafted):
--Adhering to time limits for the arbitration and awards process.
--Requiring that the timing of the presentation of the last best offer be moved to the beginning of the process to limit the number of items arbitrated and to facilitate faster resolution.
--Increasing the number and quality of arbitrators through training and a more refined selection process.
--Clarifying what constitutes a local units' "ability to pay".
-- Sell some or all of the state lottery: $750 million.
-- Cut legislative pay 5% (or more).
-- Cut public employee salaries 1% for those under $50K, 2% for those under $100K and 4% for those over $100K.
-- Remove or loosen the cap on Charter Schools to bring private dollars into the education system and force traditional public schools to “sharpen their pencils.”
-- Separate research from general support for Universities.
-- Change the funding mechanism for Universities to per-pupil funding like in K-12.
-- Privatize non-instructional school services.
-- Attract new jobs by passing Right-to-Work legislation.
-- Shovel ready permitting: State, county, local unit permits pre-approved.
-- Consider selling sponsorship rights for public schools to local businesses.
-- Cancel plans to waste $5 million on a new State Police HQ and instead continue to lease property on the MSU campus for $1 a year.
-- Eliminate the Office of the First Gentleman: Savings of $250,000 a year.
-- Reign in state contracts: All told information and technology contracts alone have ballooned by over $1.67 BILLION.
-- Prohibit the state from spending money to Savings of at least $1.35 million annually (based on 2006 numbers).
-- Prohibit union officials from drawing a salary from the taxpayers for doing union business.
-- Part-time legislature with part-time salaries.
-- Reduce legislative staff (The legislators earn enough money to pitch in and help answer constituent requests).
-- Freeze or reduce salaries for legislative staff.
-- Increase health care contribution from legislators and legislative staff.
-- Implement Medicaid Estate Recovery program.
Fresh thinking, eh? Many of these ideas I like quite a lot. Note, if you will, that nowhere on the list is a single dollar being cut from K-12 funding nor are the old and infirm being cut from Medicare or Medicaid, insuring that the state won’t cause “people to die.”
Please add any changes, savings or reforms that are missing in the comments section. And the next time someone tells you the state absolutely MUST have more cash and that tax hikes are the right thing to do, dig out this list and illuminate things for them.
Guest Writer –
Nick De Leeuw