Individuals have jobs and bank accounts. We save for big expenses on the horizon, like retirement, college and medical bills. We make choices with our bottom lines in mind. Can we afford the rent in this apartment over another one? Should we go out to a restaurant or cook at home?
It’s not always fun but we know if we slip up — the collectors come for us, not our political party.
Paying bills is bipartisan, as is fiscal responsibility. The collectors arrive, no matter which party you’re with — and in Michigan, they’re starting to line up at the door.
Our elected state government hasn’t yet passed its $60.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2020. The deadline is midnight Sept. 30. The next day the government shuts down.
If the shutdown threat sounds familiar, that’s because we’re likely still paying for the last one.
On a federal level, government inability to pass a budget resulted in 20 funding gaps in 43 years of the modern budgeting era.
The longest shutdown was the 35 days between Dec. 22, 2018 and Jan. 25, 2019 in the political tussle over border wall spending.
Politicians don’t mind shutdowns but real people do. Even if we agree with the politics, we don’t like the method and we don’t appreciate the cost. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the last shutdown busted down the GDP by $11 billion.
We expect better of our state — and have gotten better, too.
Our government has budgeted early for the last eight years. Our last state shutdowns were in 2007 and 2009.
We tend to advocate for local control as a means of solving local problems. So we winced when a few Grand Traverse County Commissioners wanted to spend public time taking stands on state and national political fodder.
Opinions are cheap — except in government. Here, they cost us.
Here, when it comes to the budget, we want our elected representatives to roll up their sleeves and solve local problems.
We understand that spending $60 billion in Michigan taxpayer dollars is a lot of work.
But we have glaring issues that most of us fundamentally agree on, namely infrastructure and schools.
Time to get to work – or back to work, for those on a Legislative recess.
By focusing on state issues instead of national politics, by bringing a willingness to compromise and an adherence to deadlines that impact real people, we know our Legislative and Executive branches can figure it out.
No one should be slinging “shutdown” around as a preemptive threat. Bills need paying, offices need staffing, tough choices need making — and most importantly, problems need solving.
It’s a responsibility, not a political choice.