Finally. An adult in the room.
You may have noticed that some lawmakers were patting themselves on the head for adopting the new state budget almost four months before the October first deadline for the second year in a row.
Getting your work done early is a wonderful value, but getting it right is even more important which is the point adult Sen. Roger Kahn is belately making.
The Saginaw Republican who runs the budget show in the senate notes, "We should do the budget within the confines of doing it well, not a date" and to make sure everyone gets his point he adds, "early and good are not exactly the same thing" he tells the news guys at the MIRS newsletter.
Everyone together now: Amen.
Sen. Kahn is putting together a document suggesting that lawmakers go back to the old way of doing the budget. In the name of speed and reducing political conflict, the House Republicans have lumped all of the state spending plan into two bills. They are affectionately referred to as the "Omnibus Budget Bills."
Mr. Kahn wants lawmakers to vote on each department budget one by one which is the way the senate has done it. That allows for more scrutiny and debate on each spending plan. Lumping everything together prevents that.
Now don't kid yourself. Very few lawmakers actually read any of the budgets and rely heavily on the house and senate budget committee members for "guidance" on how to spend your tax dollars.
But under the House GOP strategy, a member may object to say the Hollywood tax credit, but he or she can't vote against that because it is tucked into a huge budget measure that has other programs the lawmaker wants. It's an all or nothing at all approach which sounds rather un-democratic to some.
But not the state Budget director Big John Nixon. He loves the Omni-budget gambit but is willing to at least have a chat this summer with Mr. Kahn on possible changes. He also believes all the spending plans are vetted in an appropriate manner. It's not clear if he also believes in Santa Claus?
This is a debate worth having. After all if somebody was spending 40 billion dollars of your money, you'd want a frank, open and even a lengthy debate about where it goes.