'Perfect Storm' lecture predicts Michigan's upcoming fiscal problems

By Julie VerHage | 10/13/10 9:46pm

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Deputy Oakland County Executive Robert Daddow informs students about Michigan’s economic crisis.

by Eric Coulter / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Deputy Oakland County Executive Robert Daddow visited Grand Valley State Univeristy’s DeVos Center Tuesday night to give his increasingly renowned presentation, “A Perfect Storm.” The speech took a closer look at the fiscal problems Michigan will face in the months and years ahead.

Daddow began his speech by forewarning the audience that “this is not an uplifting speech.” He provided some startling statistics on unemployment, schools districts, the housing sector and the auto industry. The auto implosion and the recession in general have taken a large tole on our state in particular.

Eric Coulter

Deputy Oakland County Executive Robert Daddow during the Perfect Storm event

“Never before in the state have we had such a convergence of problems,” Daddow cautioned. He was quick to not single out any political party, as he said both were at fault for the serious problems we now face.

“The state is borrowing at a rate of $100 million a month, receiving $3.8 billion in stimulus, with another $700 million coming recently. We now have two choices; to lower taxes or cut expenses,” Daddow said. “Any other structural changes would take too long. We are continuously spending more than we are taking in, and many government officials are trying to avoid the issues and push them off to the future.”

Detroit may be on the other side of the state, but Daddow warned the people of Grand Rapids will feel the repercussions here in the form of taxes and other expenses. Between the years of 2000 and 2010, Michigan lost half of the nation’s manufacturing jobs.

The jobs losses and mounting deficit are placing pressure on the services the state provides, including police and fire departments, road construction and school districts. The state would have to be shut down for eight years in order to repay the deficit. Currently, revenues are $8 billion, while the state owes $45 billion.

Daddow’s speech may not have been uplifting, but it was informative and to the point. Will Hibler, a senior at GVSU who was a main organizer of the event, said he found the speech interesting.

“The whole thing showed that changes are going to need to come in how the government is structured in general,” Hibler said. “A lot of the changes will be needed immediately rather than waiting.”

“The Perfect Storm” lecture was sponsored by the Seidman Investment Portfolio Organization and the Seidman Economics Club.

jverhage@lanthorn.com

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