Although the fiscal 2010 Michigan budget requires no new taxes, Gov. Jennifer Granholm nevertheless has been trying to gin up support for a $600 million tax hike. This would be on top of the $1.4 billion tax hike she orchestrated in 2007, and would break a promise she made soon after that episode to never raise taxes again.

If Michigan's governor and Legislature insist on taking more from families to solve the state's self-created overspending crisis, they should at least tell those families where to trim their budgets. To help, the graphic below shows the median budget of your prototypical Midwestern individual or family, according to the federal government.

So help us, Madame Governor and legislators. Where exactly should we diminish our own lifestyles to accommodate your needs? Should we cut back on health care for the kids? Consume less food or clothing? Remove ourselves to meaner habitations? Eat out less? Take in fewer of the Hollywood films we're helping to bankroll?

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No doubt tax hike proponents will point to the need for tax revenues to pay for core government functions like police and fire protection, yet the Mackinac Center and others have identified countless examples of how to provide services at a lower cost. To cite just one, is it really necessary for state and local governments here to provide their employees with fringe benefits whose value exceeds private-sector averages by some $5.7 billion annually?

Beyond following private-sector examples of providing more for less, before reaching deeper into taxpayer pockets, state and local government should eliminate all nonessential spending, such as for golf courses and state conference centers.

The politicians' itch to reach deeper into people's pockets to prop up the state's unsustainable bureaucratic machine is unnecessary and unfair to the millions of taxpayers here who struggle daily to keep their own budgets in balance.


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