Archived Story

Balanced budget is ’800 pound gorilla’ in the room

Published 9:40am Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From left, Terry Rubenthaler, vice president of Midwest Energy Cooperative, Mike Peters, president/CEO, Michigan Electric Cooperative Association  and John Proos at the Energy Park in Cassopolis. (Daily Star photo/Provided)
From left, Terry Rubenthaler, vice president of Midwest Energy Cooperative, Mike Peters, president/CEO, Michigan Electric Cooperative Association and John Proos at the Energy Park in Cassopolis. (Daily Star photo/Provided)

By MARCIA STEFFENS
Niles Daily Star

It is a 2.8 billion dollar problem which needs answers in the next eight days.
Legislators are working to balance Michigan’s budget by Oct. 1.

“The budget takes the cake,” on the priority list,” said John Proos, Republican State House Representative, Monday, as he made his way to the Niles Daily Star and then on to Midwest Energy in Cassopolis.

“It is not easy. I would love (the state) to be all things to all people, but our spending problem needs to be balanced in harsh reality,” he said.

“The solution is not to tax families more at the time when they can least afford it … Tough choices today will make us stronger tomorrow,” he added.

“As challenging as this is, it is no different than Michigan families see every day.”
As one person told him, “We may want to eat steak, but at least we get to eat.”

With revenues down 23 to 25 percent, Proos explained, you are left with one choice, “raise taxes or balance with the revenues coming through the door.”

This is the same debate which happened in 2007, when the state shut down for four hours, and a tax increase filled the “hole in the budget,” he said.

Stimulus dollars can be used, but he would rather see them go “to free up capital to Michigan community banks for entrepreneur start-ups, to repair and grow the infrastructure.”

Proos is concerned about the continual loss of jobs and families moving out of the state.
Granted, less students mean less less financial responsibility, he added, but how can we attract businesses to our communities.

He outlined four important points employers look for when locating their business.
First they want a “livable community, a safe place to raise kids, he said
They need to be able to move their goods, so therefore infrastructure is needed.

The third is the educational opportunities at all levels from grade schools through higher education and finally the tax policy.

We must “invest in what we know is critical to the future of Michigan,” he added.
“Behind every reduction, there are real people, real faces – kids and families relying on support,”

The focus, Proos said, should be on “keeping today’s jobs and growing tomorrow’s new industries.”

One such industry which is expanding in Michigan is energy.

Proos met with three other legislators for a tour Monday of the Danny Young Memorial Renewable Energy Park in Cassopolis to learn about the information and resource Midwest Energy Cooperative is making available to people interested in renewable energy.

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