Timid Government "Efficiency" Commission Report: The Good, Bad & Ugly

The Michigan "Legislative Commission on Government Efficiency" has released a draft of its final recommendations that fully meets the expectations raised by the "overarching conclusions" that were the subject of a post on this blog two days ago. (Short version: "Bureaucratic gobbledygook won't fix Michigan.") 

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Here is the good, the bad and the ugly of the draft, with the magnitude of each weighted by font size: 

The Good: A set of vague but reasonable recommendations on Medicaid spending. 

The Bad: The failure to recommend moving all new school employees to defined contribution (401k-type) pension plans (might as well throw local government employees into that one also). (The closest the commission came to addressing pension costs was to "consider" allowing community colleges to get out of the public school retiree system.)

The Ugly: Recommending massive levels of new debt to cover post-retirement health benefits that politicians have said they would pay to public employees.


On the last, the amount of health care benefits the state has said over the years it would give to retired employees is $13.5 billion. There is no way this state or any other can afford this, so the only real solution is to give them major "haircuts." While pension obligations may be more or less sacrosanct under the state Constitution and federal law, the obstacles to clipping these costs appear to be more political than legal. Let the haircutting begin.