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Michigan Matters: Snyder Sets Date With Budget Deficit

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(credit: WWJ-TV) Carol Cain
An Emmy Award winning journalist, Carol Cain is also the se...
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MICHIGAN MATTERS (WWJ) – Michiganders – get out your red markers and circle February 17 as the day in which reckoning begins.

It’s the date Gov. Rick Snyder mentioned on “Michigan Matters” that he will reveal specifics of his game plan to address the state’s $2 billion dollar budget deficit.

Among things Snyder is likely to be talking about: changes to the state’s lucrative movie incentives and teacher and public employee benefits.

“It’s really like an iceberg,” the former CPA said in describing the state’s woes.

“You know it’s bad, but you don’t know just how bad until you look below the surface,” said the former CEO turned governor – a few weeks into his new gig.

He appeared with the seasoned political roundtable of  Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson, Democratic strategist Jill Alper and Detroit municipal  executive Charlie Beckham.

Snyder came to power promising change and that is what he will propose on the 17th.

To make his case to the public and also political leaders from across the state, he and his team have  been peeling back the layers to get a picture of what that situation is.

Snyder helped set the stage with the release last week of his 21-page “Citizen’s Financial Guide.”

“I talked about the road for action and economic development  in my State of the State speech,” Snyder said. “And on  Feb. 17 we will have details on budget and tax reform.”

“He painted a bleak picture ,” said Alper, who worked with  Gov. Jennifer Granholm in crafting her budget messages.  “I think he has been smart to outline his priorities and approach.”

Things like revenue sharing will be highlighted.

“Revenue sharing for Detroit and other places will  take a hit,” said Beckham, who has worked for every Detroit mayor since Coleman Young.

Snyder talked about the 45 emergency financial managers being trained by his State Treasurer Andy Dillon to help other distressed communities and school districts.

Patterson predicted the state law on emergency financial managers would need to be adjusted to allow more latitude.

“They are going to have to go back to Public Act 72 which changes the things an emergency financial managers can do,” said Patterson. “Otherwise, all this will do is rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.”

Detroit Public School and the city of Pontiac are among those currently operating with emergency financial managers.

When asked what he expected from the public after he puts his budget plan out there, Snyder said: “Hopefully, there  won’t be an uprising. Everyone knows we need to do things differently.  There will be shared sacrifice.”

On other topics, the roundtable also talked of  Detroit ’s water and sewage department and whether there should be a regional authority.

“You can’t legislate ownership,” said Beckham, who did not think an authority was needed.

 Alper said people should allow Detroit Mayor Dave Bing time to look into the  situation.

Patterson said a regional authority  got things get done at Cobo Center and having one at the water department also makes sense.

 Watch Michigan Matters 11 a.m. on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit. 

You can read Carol’s columns on politics and business in Detroit Free Press.

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