Can you afford Mark Schauer’s spending spree?

Greg McNeilly

Boom, you just lost $1,000. How would you and your family deal with the loss?

Would you slash your grocery budget by $20 each week?

Cancel your cellphone plan or do without home Internet access?

Would you skip a mortgage payment or two and risk foreclosure?

Stop picking up the prescription drugs you require to stay healthy?

Or would you have to stop making payments to your children’s college fund or be unable to help a parent in their twilight years?

You and your family may have to make these cuts soon.

During Michigan’s Lost Decade, families got far more used to tightening their belts than they liked. Now, as Mark Schauer — one of the chief architects of our lost decade — makes his pitch to become Michigan’s next governor, he’s dropped a bombshell on Michiganians in the form of a new plan for massive new government spending.

And he’s expecting you to pick up the tab.

Schauer released his so-called “Blueprint for Michigan” this summer, outlining his priorities including billions in new government spending. While the media robustly criticized the document for lacking specifics, fiscal analysts began digging through it to find out what it might cost taxpayers.

A former House Fiscal Agency director pegged the new costs in Schauer’s plan at $2.2 billion per year. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free market think tank based in Midland, puts the price tag at between $2.4 billion and $3.7 billion annually.

(The Mackinac Center also noted that its estimate was “conservative,” citing at least a dozen additional new government programs or departments in Schauer’s plan with costs that were impossible to estimate.)

Assuming a slightly more conservative estimate is accurate, the math on that new spending comes out to a new $1,000 per year tax, per family, across the state of Michigan.

That’s an additional $1,000 on top of the thousands Michiganians already send Lansing each year.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Schauer is no stranger to out-of-control spending, or to paying for that spending with massive new tax hikes.

When Schauer served as one of Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s top lieutenants in the legislature, he voted to raise taxes.

It was roughly this time only a few years ago that Schauer helped shut down state government in order to engineer a $765 million income tax hike on Michigan families and $750 million in new taxes on services like oil changes, haircuts and movie tickets.

It’s particularly relevant and worth noting that the $1.5 billion in new taxes Schauer steered through the Legislature to end the government shutdown were all levied on Michigan families. Not on small businesses. Not on big corporations. Not on outsourcers. On families. On you and I.

Schauer accomplished all of that in one night in 2007. Now he’s asking for four years and another pay increase.

So how about it? Is it the mortgage? Your kid’s tuition? Your spouse’s prescription drugs? Where will you find the $1,000 he’s expecting you to pony up? What can your family do without?

These are choices no family should ever have to make, but they are the choices that could be forced on each of them only a few months from now, if Schauer gets his way.

Greg McNeilly is president of the Michigan Freedom Fund.