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Posted on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

Ann Arbor lawmaker calls for investing state budget surplus in creating jobs

By Ryan J. Stanton

State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, joined fellow House Democrats today in issuing a call for putting an expected Michigan budget surplus toward creating jobs.

It was reported last week that Michigan's state government might have brought in more money from taxes and fees than previously expected in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Now being debated is what to do with the cash, which is estimated to total $285 million or more.

Irwin and other Democrats issued a statement today arguing that Michigan’s persistent high unemployment rate indicates the resources would be best used getting people back to work right away, fixing roads and promoting clean energy efforts.


Jeff Irwin

"Every tool, every resource at our disposal, needs to be dedicated to reducing unemployment," Irwin said. "Investing in good roads and energy efficiency projects provides good jobs and has the added benefit of saving consumers and the state millions in car repairs and wasted energy."

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and other Republicans in Lansing have urged caution, though.

"Money gets spent real fast around here, before we ever get it in some cases," Richardville told the Associated Press last week.

The governor's budget office is expected to close the books on the recently completed 2010-11 fiscal year in December. The AP reported that officials from the state treasury and the nonpartisan House and Senate fiscal agencies will come up with consensus revenue forecasts in January that also will help build upcoming state spending plans.

State Reps. Jim Townsend, D-Royal Oak, and Stacy Erwin Oakes, D-Saginaw, joined Irwin in raising concerns today that GOP leaders might put the money in a rainy day fund.

"If they haven't noticed, it's raining cats and dogs," Irwin said. "Unemployment is going up. This is a rainy day. Our rainy day fund is for times just such as these and we have projects ready that will put people to work. It's a no-brainer that we should be making those investments."

Irwin said he's also concerned the GOP might try to use the surplus money to fund obligations such as the pension fund for retired lawmakers.

"Maybe it's the wrong time for legislators to focus on making sure their own retirement is well funded," he said.

The Democrats argue the Republican-controlled Legislature should consider the “Michigan Jobs Now” plan they introduced in June in the form of House Bill 4758. They say the legislation the GOP failed to consider would have invested in proven job-creation activities such as transportation infrastructure improvements and clean energy efforts across the state.

The Democrats also are pushing to restore money stripped from schools and have introduced a constitutional amendment to prevent future raids of the School Aid Fund.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

Don't let the Republicans give this money to the 1%. Put the middle class back to work!

Tom Smith

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

And that means 10% isn't working. Currently 14 million people, or almost five percent of the population. I guess that's the acceptable New Normal...?

The Picker

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

Whats your plan Enso? 90% of the middle class is working.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 4:05 a.m.

Amen, Jeff!


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:38 a.m.

Rep. Irwin reminded me of this quote: "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." --P. J. O'Rourke


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Which again reminds me of why PJ O'Rourke is a fool.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

It's not a surplus, it's just a lower deficit than expected. The responsible thing to do would be not to spend the money, period.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.

Repeal the tax Rickie slamed through on retirees! Oh by the way wherre all the jobs Rickie promised us?


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

Probably in the same place as all the jobs Granholm & Obama promised us.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:16 a.m.

what "create jobs" means is give more money to the UAW for "retraining" so Irwin can win favor with the unions to get reelected. Responsible use wouldbe to pay off the 111 million dollars per year they owe the feds for the unemployment benefit "extension" that was approved. Talk about tranparency.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

I guess we didn't read the same article.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:06 a.m.

It sure didn't take long for the [NB:] "expected surplus" to burn a hole in Freshman Jeff's pocket. If there is indeed an actual surplus how about paying down our debt or holding on to it as a rainy day fund instead?


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 4:13 a.m.

It's pouring now - Create some jobs. Unemployment is up every month of Snyders administration!

Hot Sam

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

The government is not a venture capital fund...

Linda Peck

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

Give us our money back!!!!!

Mr. Ed

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

I thought shifting the tax burden from business to the poor, disable and retirees was supposed to create jobs.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:48 a.m.

That was my understanding too!


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

Although I applaud Rep. Irwin's goal of creating more jobs, I believe paying down our current debt / obligations may be wiser at this point. Government is not a terrific creator of jobs, small businesses are much better. Our infrastructure definitely needs work, but it is perpetually crumbling soon after it is built and rebuilt. I'd be happier with the State investing in a company that can figure out and/or build better roads that last!

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:44 a.m.

Fixing roads? Why don't the excessively heavy trucks that destroy the roads pay to fix the roads?


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

Ron Granger, To save money, our roads have less reinforcement than roads in other states.

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

Interesting.. Then why are our roads worse than *every* other state I've ever driven in?


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

From MDOT: Michigan permits trucks up to 164,000 pounds on the system. However, different than other states, Michigan requires a lower weight per axle which more evenly distributes the load and reduces wear and tear on roads. MDOT engineers have thoroughly studied this issue and the result of this research is that heavier trucks do not cause a disproportionate amount of damage as long as the weight is evenly distributed over an appropriate number of axles. Additionally, trucks over 80,000 pounds make up only less than 5% of all trucks operating on our roads. If Michigan were to reduce it's truck weight laws to 80,000 pounds, more damage to the system may occur because of the need to put more trucks on the road.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

Deregulation laws under Reagan allow trucks to carry heavier loads that ruin our roads.

Ron Granger

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:42 a.m.

There is no such thing as a "surplus". It is over-taxation.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

This money can't go to businesses to create jobs, Snyder already set up businesses with tax cuts to create jobs. I still think some of the money should be put back into education, but clearly setting aside some money wouldn't hurt. Anxious to see what he does, and voters may remember when election roles around.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:17 a.m.

Stephen, you keep repeating this nonsense like a mantra, but I have news for you: this surplus comes from revenues exceeding expectations in the last GRANHOLM budget - your darlings have nothing to do with it, and don't deserve a sliver of credit.

Michigan Man

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

Kafkaland - not sure if you read very well - I will say it again - Ouimet and Synder getting it done.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:16 a.m.

Sheesh Pay the unfunded obligations and or give the money back

Michigan Man

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

Ann Arbor men Mark Ouimet and Rick Snyder getting it done for the fine residents of the State of Michigan! Did not take Mark and RIck and their GOP asssociates long at all to get things turned around from the Granholm (sp) debacle.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

The money is left over from the last Granholm budget.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

There are several lawsuits that are working their way through court, a major rise in Medicaid payments next year and other issues that makes hanging onto the money (if it exists) a reasonable answer for right this minute. If the pension lawsuit is settled in the state's favor and the other lawsuits are also settled in the state's favor, then the money exists. If they are not, it is gone. As to the medicaid issues - this one is going to eat another big chunk of the state budget next year, and Washington is again not going to pay for their unfunded mandate. There are probably a dozen groups who think the money should be theirs. K-12 education, universities, state employees, pension funds, tax payers, businesses, infrastructure, et al all want $$$$ from the state. The best thing to do is to wait, assess and then make a clear decision, once the dust settles on the right way to use the money - IF IT EXISTS.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 11:32 p.m.

the people in Lansing will " save" it.. till they need it for a pet project.. a big slush fund for them

David Briegel

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

Everyone knows that the number one priority will be tax cuts for the contributors to Rick's slush funds!


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

As opposed to giving it to the unions so that they can give it to Democratic politicians.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

If David was only a job creator, then he could get all the "big" tax cuts businesses area getting. Come one David. Create some jobs for us instead of whining about your slice of the pie.

David Briegel

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

Know, you are correct, the slush fund is the quid pro quo for the tax cuts!

The Picker

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

I don't even think you know that.

The Picker

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

Everyone doesn't know that!


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10 p.m.

That extra money is just begging to be sent to some union contractors to build some stuff or some other "proven" job creation thing. The government cannot create jobs they can fund them for awhile (as long as they can borrow from places like China) but in the end their "created" jobs are not sustainable because they rely on tax dollars to susatin them. Kind of like a perpetual energy machine..... It's amazing how the talk never centers around things like reducing taxes so consumers (who drive the economy) might have more money to spend.....hmmmm


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

By that definition the private sector doesn't create jobs either. The private sector's jobs aren't sustainable because they'll just ship them off to another country to make not just a profit (they already make that in this country) but MORE of a profit (and guess where that extra money goes).

The Picker

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

Here's a novel idea. Let's put this money away for a rainy day and get out of the way and let the job creators, create jobs.

The Picker

Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 1:07 a.m.

If things don't change for the business community, we will return to those good old days as peasants. China wants to be like us. yes they still have far left-wing tendancies, but they will eventually ,moderate their stance and come around, like most capitalists markets do They are happy for any opportunity and are willing to work for it, no matter what. So Enso, You've told me what I'm for, What about You? Who are your Idols?


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

@ Picker.. So you are in favor of making the US like China? A huge security apparatus to get rid of dissent? Some of the most polluted cities in the world? Wages that force entire families to live with each other in small houses and barely getting by because their wages are so minimal? The Picker wants to go back to being a peasant and idolizing the rich. I for one am not ready for that!

The Picker

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

Quit waiiting for someone else to take care of you. Take care of yourself. Ask not what your country can do for you , ask what you can do for your country

The Picker

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

Who said anything about accepting taxpayer money? When the CEO of Coca Cola, says its easier to do business in China than it is here in the US, I think that says it all. Get the govt and the unions out of the way!


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

How long do you propose we wait for this?


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 4:08 a.m.

It's pouring here already - forget the rainy day fund and create some jobs. Unemployment has gone up every month of Snyders Administration!

Matt Cooper

Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 12:01 a.m.

And where exactly are all the jobs your so-called "job creators" you would give all this money to, creating? They ain't in Michigan. In case you hadn't read it yet, Michigan's unemployment is among the highest in the country. So...where are all the jobs they are supposedly creating? And why should we, the Michigan taxpayers, give them one more cent to supposedly create more non-existant jobs?

The Picker

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

Social jobs create nothing!

Tom Smith

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 10 p.m.

Oh, like they've been doing for the last decade? Snyder and his fellows slashed taxes for businesses that didn't need to be slashed, and then slashed jobs and social programs to pay for them. And now they say there's a surplus, and they wonder if it should be spent on jobs? Maybe, just maybe, you shouldn't have slashed so much in the first place.


Mon, Oct 17, 2011 : 9:55 p.m.

I can't believe the irresponsible GOP might actually want to save some money, in case we need it more later! Insert soapbox [HERE]


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 4:06 a.m.

It's pouring rain now, forget the rainy day fund and create some jobs!