Thursday, May 31, 2007

Jack in the Gazette

Jack Hoogendyk wrote an excellent viewpoint in the Gazette exposing the waste in state government.


Executive branch needs to get its house in order

Monday, May 28, 2007

By Jack Hoogendyk

On April 29, the Kalamazoo Gazette made an analogy comparing the state of Michigan to a business owner who has seen revenues slip but who hasn't trimmed expenses to keep up. ``His savings are gone. His credit is tapped out. The bills are piling up.'' This is an accurate analogy.

In the discussions, I had with the reporter leading up to this article, I pointed out another key concern which the story failed to mention. To take the analogy a little further, if that business owner saw a department head mismanaging valuable company funds, if not stealing them, he would undoubtedly act immediately to dismiss, if not prosecute that department head.

This apparently does not happen in state government. The ``CEO'' has known for years about gross mismanagement of funds and has failed to act. I cite a few examples:

A 10-year contract with the Department of Information and Technology for voice and data communications starts at $17 million, but after several ``contract change orders,'' grows to $129 million.

A nine-year contract with the Department of Management and Budget for computing hardware, software and services starts at $58 million and balloons to $555 million after ``changes.''

A 13-year contract for ``all state agencies'' was signed for $2 million. Somehow, additions are approved to increase the contract to $144 million.

A four-year contract with the Michigan child-support enforcement system to provide project management services worth $5.6 million is increased to $200 million.

The Department of Community Health makes more than $55 million in questionable or over-payments to its pharmacy benefits manager.

Meanwhile, in 2006, the Department of Human Services overspends its budget by $30 million, doesn't report it as required by law and goes on spending, even though they know two months before the end of the budget year that they are over-budget and in violation of the Constitution.

All of these overpayments and many more like them were reported in recent audits performed by the auditor general of the state. The Legislature responded when appropriate with new legislation to tighten controls. But the only way to truly address these serious issues is for the department heads to be held responsible by the ``CEO'' -- the governor -- for their incompetence. This has not happened.

The governor continues to ask for tax increases. She has recommended an additional $1 billion in spending for next year. She has recommended an additional 700 civil-service positions, while threatening to lay off 29 state troopers.

As a state representative responsible for sound fiscal policy, I cannot, in good conscience, even consider tax increases when spending continues to spiral upward and hundreds of millions of dollars are mismanaged and misspent by government. I am hopeful that the executive branch of government will get its house in order.

State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, of Texas Township, represents the 61st District.

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