Michigan Struggles to Avoid Shutdown State legislators in Michigan are scrambling to eliminate a budget deficit to avoid a shutdown of much of the state's government on Monday. Lawmakers have been meeting throughout the weekend.
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Michigan Struggles to Avoid Shutdown

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Michigan Struggles to Avoid Shutdown

Michigan Struggles to Avoid Shutdown

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Andrea Seabrook.

If Michigan legislators don't come up with a new budget by midnight tonight, the state government will pretty much shutdown. Lawmakers are trying to make sure that doesn't happen. They met all day yesterday and have been meeting all day today, but so far, no dice.

We caught up with Detroit News reporter Mark Hornbeck on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives to find out what it will mean if there's no deal by midnight.

Mr. MARK HORNBECK (Reporter, Detroit News): All kinds of things will happen and none of them good. They'll be a shutdown of most of the state government. There will be a few things that will remain open such as prison and some state psychiatric hospitals. You would see a greatly reduced force of state police patrolling the highways from down from a thousand to about two hundred. You'd seen no crime labs or criminal drug investigations. No more investigations of environmental hazards, and you can see a stoppage of horse manure cleanup on Carlos Mackinac Island.

SEABROOK: Governor Jennifer Granholm has made the front page of Michigan.gov as sort of a central location for information on a government shutdown - what to do if your government shuts down. It looks like she's taking a pretty hard line here.

Mr. HORNBECK: Well, it took quite a while for them to actually put that service online. In fact, she got criticized for waiting so long since it's been fairly evident for quite sometime that, you know, this was a real threat. But now there are some detailed instructions and detailed information on what happens in the event of a shutdown.

SEABROOK: And she and the state legislature really have horns locked here, huh? It all comes down to that. She could, with a flick of a pen, keep the government open.

Mr. HORNBECK: Right. Just a little background: The governor is a Democrat. The House is controlled by Democrats. The Senate is controlled by Republicans.


Mr. HORNBECK: The Republican-controlled Senate would like to pass a continuation budget that would keep state operating during negotiations that's stretch in October. The governor had said no. We need to keep the pressure on. We need to get this thing done now, and to pass continuation budget would only sentence the state further in the debt.

SEABROOK: So given that's it all parties and all people in this, who - what are the people on the ground? Who are they blaming?

Mr. HORNBECK: Everybody's getting a piece of the blame. Certainly, the governor is. Certainly, the legislative leaders are. We're seeing all kinds of e-mail from folks who are just outraged on both sides of this issue.

SEABROOK: Has this ever happened before in Michigan?

Mr. HORNBECK: It has not.

SEABROOK: Nothing like it.

Mr. HORNBECK: Right.

SEABROOK: And is anyone or any politicians or people harkening back to the Clinton administration federal government shutdown where…

Mr. HORNBECK: Right. The (unintelligible) of Newt Gingrich that certainly has been alluded to and you have similar situation there. We had a Democratic president…


Mr. HORNBECK: …and a Republican-controlled House. So some of the parallels are certainly there.

SEABROOK: Does that put any fear in politician's hearts about predicting who's going to get the blame for this?

Mr. HORNBECK: That puts fear in politician's hearts but votes on tax increases is also do because we have a very active recall effort going on here. There's a threat that lawmakers who vote yes on increasing taxes will face recalls, so the dynamics are myriad.

SEABROOK: And you're the guy on the ground here. What's your gut about whether or not this will be resolved before the shutdown tomorrow?

Mr. HORNBECK: I think they're resolved in the legislature to get this done today. But whether there's enough time left, remains to be seen.

SEABROOK: Mark Hornbeck reports for the Detroit News.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Mr. HORNBECK: Okay. Thank you.

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