“I saw an unusual thing today,” Mark Twain allegedly said. “It was a politician with his hands in his own pockets.”
In the hope politicians might stop reaching deeper into everyone else’s pockets, experts at the Mackinac Center have invested countless hours in researching and recommending hundreds of budget reform ideas worth billions of dollars. Our first budget study was published in 1996 and recommended $1 billion in cuts. More recently, we published 35 old and new ideas for reforming the budget, to reallocate up to $2.1 billion for roads or other priorities.
Many of the 35 ideas are bold ones, with large savings. Indeed, the first three reform ideas alone are worth nearly $1.2 billion, the figure Gov. Rick Snyder has long said he wanted in new taxes for road and infrastructure repair. The following is a cross section of ideas from the document:
- Eliminate statutory revenue sharing to local units of government and/or redirect those revenues back to local units, but earmark them to road repair. Savings: $419.2 million.
- Eliminate the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. This is Michigan’s corporate welfare department. Savings: $300 million. (Note: This is a very conservative estimate.)
- End certain “one-time” appropriations, such as subsidies for the Muskegon farmers market ($200,000) or the Michigan Senior Olympics ($100,000). The Mackinac Center’s analysts have identified $10.1 million in such appropriations in the fiscal 2015 budget.
The Mackinac Center isn’t the only institution to float bold budget reform ideas. In 2009 and 2010, two other government groups made hundreds of recommendations worth $1.5 billion and $2.98 billion, respectively. If not our ideas for reform, why not those?
Michigan taxpayers deserve a break. The state could give them one by finding budget savings and then cutting spending and personal income taxes. We’ve drawn a roadmap for legislators, if only they would follow it.