Friday, September 28, 2007

Musing upon a lack of government.

Well, we go into the weekend with the possibility of a limited state government shutdown, because there is no balanced budget. Being somewhat outside the hubbub of normal conversations taking place in the common areas of the building, I don't know what the latest scuttlebutt is that people are talking about, but I imagine that the worst is to come (i.e., a closure of some segments of state government for the foreseeable future).

In her address to the state last night, Gov. Granholm said:
"Without a balanced budget in place, state government cannot write a single check. But tonight I am hopeful, because productive negotiations are now underway in my office that could head off this government shutdown while there is still time. We have made significant progress in the last 48 hours, and we have narrowed our differences. I am doing all that I can to achieve a budget agreement, however, there is one thing I will not do. I will not accept a budget that makes massive cuts to education, health care, and public safety."

Today, I suddenly wondered if this would affect online databases maintained by the state. Specifically, would the plug be pulled on all the servers (since the state is paying electricity bills)? Would it mean that if a server crashed that no one would fix it? What about state computer networks?

Luckily, most of the stuff I'm working on presently don't involve online data from the state (hopefully we have downloaded all the stuff we needed a long time ago). However, one area of my research involves talking to people in the Dept. of Natural Resources and the Dept. of Environmental Quality. Hopefully (for fear of not getting my work done), the budget will be taken care of this weekend. Hopefully (for fear of the safety and well-being of the state), the budget will be taken care of this weekend.

Is this an issue of increased partisan politics? I don't know, since I haven't really been paying close attention to the comings-and-goings in Lansing. However, my opinion of how the state can increase revenue - raise service taxes from 0% to 2% - was apparently an idea that was cast aside early in the process. Oh, well. And here I thought that an increase on a tax (that disproportionately affects the affluent) of two percentage points (from a starting point of ZERO) would be a smarter choice to pursue over a proposed increase on sales tax (that disproportionately affects the poor). But what do I know?

There was a story on the radio last night/this morning that non-Indian reservation casinos would have to be shut down, since the state's gaming board would not be able to adequately police these places. I wonder what will happen (when it comes to "playing hardball" with "live grenades") the state government will temporarily close the DEQ offices in charge of monitoring sewage treatment plant discharge. Will the state use the same justification to close down sewage treatment plants (because they cannot be adequately monitored)? If that happens, I would bet that a budget decision would be reached about as quickly as the sewage starts to back up into people's basements. (Of course, for people living on septic systems, that could be a long time...)

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