Dear State of Michigan: Seriously?

>> Monday, April 9, 2012

To Whom It May Concern (though I doubt anyone cares…)

Thank you for the letter I recently found in my mailbox. Was very thoughtful of you to send me a tax bill, even though I’ve already submitted the paperwork and printed a payment voucher. Same as I’ve done the past several years.

And besides that, I’ve done taxes my entire adult life and know how to read April 15 on the calendar.

We get a bonus of two extra days, so why the rush? (The traditional tax return filing deadline falls on Sunday this year and April 16 falls on Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia--not sure what that has to do with anything...)

But still, it was quite considerate of you to drop a friendly reminder.

That has not always been the case: Remember a long time ago when I messed up and owed $400? You sent me a letter then too. Many months after the fact. And you demanded payment in two weeks. Not so polite then.

Must be we have a “kinder, gentler government” now.

I’m quite puzzled over the fact that you would expend manpower and waste funds on mailings BEFORE the due date. Proactive or desperate...not sure which.

Hard to believe my $51 is that important.

All this comes on the heels of April 1. I’m a state employee with twenty-five years of service, eligible to retire in five. Two years ago, we were forced to start paying 3% for health care—until high courts ruled it unconstitutional. Sure, we got it back. Even with a small amount of interest.
Turns out it was only a short reprieve.

As of last week, we now pay 4% toward our retirement. Plus our health care contribution doubled. (Totaling about $200 a month for me.) Plus many of my co-workers were demoted (losing $1 per hour.)

My gross income has decreased in the last several years due to furlough days and pay cuts. No cost of living increases have come my way either.

And did I mention that my workload doubled due to depletion of staff in the name of ‘cost savings’?
Oh Michigan, you’ve been pretty silent about all that. No apology letters have graced my mailbox, yet those up the food chain are quick to chant “do more with less.” All while upper level administrators continue to pad their bank accounts at the expense of state employees.

Here’s something else we hear a lot: Be grateful you have a job. And believe me I am. I’m very blessed to be able to support my modest lifestyle, especially in tough economic times. I know I’m one of the lucky ones and don’t deny the fact that many others struggle to make ends meet.

But all my years of loyal service apparently count for nothing.

On another note, the House and Senate are currently battling over next year’s budget. One of the bills goes so far as listing each institution and what positions they propose to eliminate. If it passes, I will be one of two secretaries left to handle all the clerical work for the entire facility (the other three staff members will be on the road, hopefully bumped to a position that is commutable.)


My $51 will be paid on time—not to worry. And next time you think you need to drop me a friendly reminder, run it through the shredder:

Maybe you can sell the recycled paper and add a few dollars to the budget.


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