CREC yourself before you wreck yourself

“CREC yourself before you wreck yourself.” For the last 11 years, I have been trying to slip that joke into my work in the Legislature and now the League. And I had an epiphany yesterday that I might finally be able to do it…as long as I put my own name on it.

I also need to give it a proper explanation, as there’s probably a small sliver of people who know what CREC is AND get 90s Ice Cube lyrics. CREC stands for Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. Held in January and May of every year, CREC is comprised of the directors of the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies and the state treasurer or budget director.

These fiscal experts analyze and report on economic indicators and state revenue projections. The consensus that is reached during the January conference becomes the revenue basis for the governor’s budget proposal, and the consensus reached during the May conference become the revenue basis for the budget bills passed by the Legislature.

The May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference was earlier this week, and the news on state revenues is not great. But there is a silver lining, at least to me—it makes “wreck yourself” particularly relevant.

Since January, some Michigan legislators have been really hot on cutting the state income tax. This is a bad idea on its face, but especially in this current context. As League CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs said, “Given the fluctuations in state revenues, it was and continues to be foolhardy to consider tax cuts that would further jeopardize state services.”

if-only-i-had-checked-myselfSee! “CREC yourself before you wreck yourself” is not just a (bad) pun—it’s a valid point. The very intent of the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference is for lawmakers to check themselves and incorporate these estimates into their state spending and budgets. And if they don’t take these forecasts seriously and make poor fiscal decisions, they stand to wreck our state budget, our state services and ultimately our state.

The Legislature needs to let talk of an income tax cut die. And when the House and Senate budget committees begin meeting soon, lawmakers should be sensible and strategic with our state dollars, investing in the programs and services that support our workers and families and get the most bang for our state bucks. For example, increasing state funding for child care and heating assistance can leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

The next few weeks are critical to the state budget and the priorities you and I value. To help you get involved, the League has put together a timeline and advocacy tips on the state budget. We also continue to produce budget briefs on some of the issues that are most important to us and to you: supporting education, including child care, K-12 schools and colleges and universities, protecting healthcare and the Healthy Michigan Plan, and reducing incarceration and providing adequate support for prisoners.

Whether you can work a rap reference in or not, I hope you will join the League in standing up for these budget priorities and urging lawmakers to make smart investments in our state’s future.

Alex Rossman

Lawmakers should abandon tax cut, uphold strategic investments in light of downward revenue estimates

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

State budget funding for child care and heating assistance will bring in vital federal dollars

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the revenue projections being announced at today’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“Today’s downward revenue estimates should tell Michigan lawmakers two things. One, given the fluctuations in state revenues, it was and continues to be foolhardy to consider tax cuts that would further jeopardize state services. The state’s General Fund has not kept pace with inflation, and Michigan now has the second highest reliance in the nation on federal funds for basic services. Deep cuts sure to come in the federal budget—along with existing demands on state general funds—could put Michigan in a very precarious fiscal position and threaten the state’s ability to support the services and infrastructure needed to keep the economy growing. Lawmakers should be focused on creating a tax system that is fair and able to withstand economic downturns or swings in federal policy. We simply can’t afford to cut taxes in a time of unpredictable revenues.

“Two, in the context of lower than expected revenues, legislators must be very strategic when allocating state revenues to make sure that state spending priorities match the needs of Michigan’s residents. This includes investing funds in the current state budget in child care and heating assistance to leverage hundreds of millions in federal dollars to support working parents and put food on the tables of kids, seniors and people with disabilities through ‘heat and eat.’”

For more information, see the League’s budget briefs on child care and education and “heat and eat” and human services.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Michigan revenues still not enough to fix ongoing problems

There’s good news, but there’s also bad news. Michigan’s January Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference (CREC)—the first step in crafting a budget for the next fiscal year—was held in Lansing this week, and it looks like Michigan will have some unexpected one-time money left over from last year. On the other hand, we can’t count on continued robust growth of this nature; in fact, the state is looking at less revenue than was projected last May for this budget year and the next. (more…)