Admittedly, television shows like "Dancing With The Stars" aren't my cup of tea. Nevertheless, as Gov. Jennifer Granholm approaches her final year in that office, the idea of wearing an unbuttoned silk shirt and tight salsa pants, and shaking my behind to "Wild Thing" (a' la' Tom Delay), still sounds more attractive than "Dance with us in government."
This, recall, was the invitation tendered by the shiny-new governor in her first inaugural address back on Jan. 1, 2003. Gov. Granholm may be embarrassed by the "dancing with government" remark: Like Red Square May Day parade photos that no longer contain purged party leaders in the old USSR, it's been airbrushed from the inaugural address text posted on the state's official Web site. (See video clip, below.) Perhaps the line was just an ad lib not in the original text. Perhaps not.
After nearly seven years of cha-cha-cha, I suspect that most Michiganders now recognize that state government makes for a clumsy dance partner with two left feet. Consider just some of the policy limbos that have bent back the state:
- A massive expansion in business tax breaks and subsidies;
- A "Cool Cities" initiative that wasn't;
- An expensive subsidy program for filmmakers that may cost taxpayers more than $100 million annually;
- A "remonopolization" of the electric utilities that's raising costs for job providers;
- Higher electric utility rates for everyone to advance "renewables" mandates;
- A sneaky "shift-and-shaft" property tax hike;
- A 75 cents per pack cigarette tax hike;
- A $1.4 billion personal income and business tax hike;
- A steady stream of new anti-competitive licensure mandates;
- The rejection of a $200 million gift for charter schools in Detroit from philanthropist Bob Thompson;
- A Department of Environmental Quality that's been actively freezing economic activity in the state.
In short, this has been one costly samba.
Michigan has become a more expensive and less attractive state in which to do business, and untold numbers of job providers have waltzed across our border to Indiana and elsewhere as a result. Perhaps some in this administration are as embarrassed by their policies as they are by the awful, empty words encouraging people to dance with those in government.