BALLOTBOX: Requirement sends right message to job seekers and providers

By Michael Bouchard

Michigan is my home. It's where I was born, went to school, raised my family, and started my career in law enforcement. My love for our great state has been a cornerstone of my public service through the years, including when I served in the Michigan Senate for eight years and now, back in law enforcement for the last 13 years as Oakland County Sheriff.

I remain committed to leaving a better state to our next generation of Michiganders. I want my children to have the same opportunity--to spend their whole life right here in Michigan. This commitment has driven my positions on many issues through the years, including the issue of fiscal responsibility at all levels of government. The taxpayers of our state deserve fiscal responsibility from Lansing, which is why I am supporting the Michigan Alliance for Prosperity and their Two-Thirds Movement.

Finding ways to make government more efficient and effective should be the first order of the day for lawmakers--just as it is for those of us running households and businesses. It's too easy to demand tax increases than to actually trim the fat out of the ever-growing state budget. Make no mistake--Michigan's budget has never suffered the way taxpayers' budgets have in the past few years.

Trimming the fat also doesn't have to mean laying off personnel who provide critical services such as public safety. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office has not been sheltered from the economic challenges of the past few years. In fact, I am proud to say that over the past several years we have found ways to cut our budget dramatically without sacrificing community safety.

We did it by identifying ways to be more efficient--to do more with less--by making choices like privatizing jail food services, which resulted in an annual savings of $1.6 million. Decisions to do things differently in order to do things better for the people who are paying the bills aren't always easy, but it is the right thing to do.

I first introduced the idea of a two-thirds legislative requirement in the 1990s during my time in the Michigan Senate. Changing the requirement from 51 percent to two-thirds, means that lawmakers must have broad legislative and public consensus to raise taxes. This is consistent with other taxpayer protections in the Michigan Constitution such as Proposal A in 1994. It is also consistent with important legislative activities such as placing a bill on a Michigan ballot for a vote of the people or giving legislation immediate effect--both activities already require a two-thirds legislative majority. If those activities require two-thirds approval of the legislature, doesn't it make sense that we would have the same requirement before we take more money from our citizens' wallets? Government always says they raise taxes as a last resort, but it is the first resort they check into. Opponents say if this had been in place they could not have repealed the terrible Michigan Business Tax. This ignores the fact that had this been in place we never would have had the Michigan Business Tax in the first place.

I am proud to stand behind the Two Thirds Movement that is underway here in Michigan. It sends the right message to job seekers and job providers--that Michigan is leading the way in making important economic reforms to protect future generations. I hope you will stand with me and support this important effort.

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Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard runs one of the nation's largest Sheriff's Offices, overseeing 1,200 employees and managing an annual budget of over $141 million dollars. Bouchard brings the experience of 25 years of law enforcement and 25 years as an elected official to the position.

Published: Fri, Nov 2, 2012

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