Listening to gubernatorial candidates Virg Bernero and Rick Snyder in their recent debate reminded me of conversations I've had with auto mechanics over the years.
You know the drill. Your car is making troubling noises, so you take it to the dealer or repair shop, where you're told, "We can't tell you how much it will cost to fix until we get in there and figure out what's going on."
That's essentially the way Bernero and Snyder responded to questions about how they would cut spending to balance the state budget in light of their stated refusal to raise taxes.
Snyder talked about his "value for money" budgeting plan in which spending priorities would be established based on the value of government services being provided. He said he wouldn't know the full extent of the spending problem until he could examine the budget as governor.
Likewise, Bernero promised to perform a "forensic audit" to determine where spending cuts should be made. He asked us to take it on faith that he could balance the state budget without a tax increase because he's done it for five straight years as Lansing mayor.
But as anyone who taken his car into the repair shop knows, we're unlikely to get out of the state's fiscal mess for free. You can read more on my take on this topic here.
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