Townsend Introduces 'Pay-As-You-Go' Legislation, Calls for Fiscal Responsibility

Lawmaker's plan will bring transparency and accountability to state budget
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

LANSING – With Michigan facing a nearly $2 billion deficit and another difficult round of budget cuts, State Representative Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak) today introduced a plan to bring fiscal responsibility and transparency to the state budget. Townsend’s “pay-as-you-go” legislation would require the state to have a plan to pay for any legislation before passing it, which would help prevent the yearly budget crises that have led to devastating cuts to key priorities like education.

“State government needs to learn to live within its means and should be held accountable for every single taxpayer dollar it uses,” Townsend said. “It’s amazing to me that lawmakers are allowed to pass legislation, but aren’t required to make sure there is money to pay for it over the long term. That careless practice has contributed greatly to our fiscal problems and led to painful budget cuts that have impacted every community in Michigan. My plan is a common-sense approach to the state budget that will help keep Michigan out of fiscal trouble in the future.”

Townsend’s plan will require the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies to rate any legislation based on its five-year impact on the state budget. In order to be voted on, any legislation with a negative impact on state revenues would need to include provisions to pay for its cost.

“Any successful household or business understands that if you don’t have the money, you don’t go on a shopping spree,” Townsend said. “It’s unfortunate that state government has not worked that way. Regrettably, the people who suffer for this fiscal negligence are often our children, seniors and vulnerable residents who see programs and resources they depend on slashed to balance the budget year after year. It’s time to change that. Our residents deserve a transparent government and a budget that is sustainable over the long haul."