Tanned, refreshed, and just off a two-week hiatus, Michigan's full time legislature returns to action this week with the same list of nasty issues to tackle that they had on the table when they hi-tailed it out of town.
The agenda is no walk through the park: Whopping budget deficits for this year and next; raising more money for the roads; banning smoking in public places, and spending more of those Obama-bucks flowing in from Washington.
The spending part is the easy part; the rest of the agenda will challenge these folks to get it done by the summer break in early July.
Oh, did we mention the House Speaker also wants debate on an omnibus tax-restructuring proposal, pieces of which, may be on the November ballot for you to decide this year?
By now lawmakers are old hands at slicing up state services to balance the books. Problem is all the low hanging fruit was plucked years ago and now it's crunch time where some lawmakers may have to sacrifice their pet projects at the budget cutting alter.
Some of the federal stimulus money will be used to ease some of the pain, but the Granholm administration and the legislative republicans agree it cannot be used to wipe out the entire deficit. That's because when the fed money dries up, the budget hole will simply reappear.
Raising money for roads is a top priority for the road-building lobby for obvious reasons: More money means more jobs. Only problem is lawmakers have to provide yes votes to do that and eliminating the gas tax and replacing it with another tax which will grow with the price of gas will not be an easy vote.
The smoking ban remains an enigma. Seems like everybody and his uncle in the real world favors the ban. Except some of those uncles own casinos, cigar bars, or tobacco shops and they want an exemption and the battle over that is gumming up the debate.
So now they get down to business and what the end product on all these issues will be in three months, is anybodies guess.