Skubick: State budget director juggles red-hot Line 5 & Internet tax issues


The state budget director has his hands full trying to appease some Republican lawmakers who are not pleased with the conduct of the state attorney general and not pleased with the governor’s call for a 40% tax on Internet gaming. 

The governor’s budget director gets paid to put out budget fires and he has two burning out of control right now.

With the governor and attorney general apparently moving to shut down Line 5, which means propane gas in the U.P. will stop flowing, too.

In retaliation, Upper Peninsula lawmaker Rep. Beau LaFave wants to zero out the attorney general’s budget.

“You know what I’d like to do is take away the attorney general’s entire budget.”

And why would he do that? Rep. LaFave says “because she is going to start killing my constituents. We’re going to freeze to death.”

A more sanguine budget director gets the message but, “I understand it is sending a message and we understand the concerns but at the end of the day, it’s my job to restore those cuts,” explains Chris Kolb.

The other fire Mr. Kolb is trying to put out concerns the legalization of sports and Internet betting.

The main sponsor of the betting packaged was shocked when he learned the governor wants a 40% tax on Internet bets and 15% on sports betting.

“I really appreciate that the governor’s office has put something in writing,” says Rep. Brant Iden.

So what was his reaction when he heard 40%?

“I fell off my chair. The numbers don’t work. And by the way, we are losing out to Indiana, Ohio and Illinois and I’m afraid our citizens are going to take their money and go 45 minutes south.”

To which budget director Kolb says, “if you look at what other states are doing we’re going to come in around that range.”

As for Rep Iden’s “falling out of his chair reaction”?  “Was anybody there is see him fall off the chair? Look at this as all part of the negotiations to come in at another level.”

The budget director predicts lawmakers will get all these budget issues and a host of others, completed before any talk of a government shutdown enters the conversation.  

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