A conference committee of Michigan’s Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled House agreed to substantial cuts in education funding as a means to balancing the state budget. What are these guys thinking? Have they forgotten Gov. Granholm won’t sign a budget bill without Promise grants? Granholm, a Democrat, maintains a college-educated workforce is what Michigan needs to transition from the automotive economy to economies of the future. So I’m thinking another state government shutdown is coming in 7 days.
Consider the logic. Education is what enables people to become contributing members to society. According to the Detroit Free Press, the cuts agreed to will slash $18.7 million from Detroit Public Schools. Say what you want about DPS, but $18,700,000 is real money! How do you suppose such cuts will affect literacy rates in Detroit? Suppose that will help the city’s 28.9% unemployment rate? I have long believed educational disparity is what keeps the urban poor mired in hopelessness and despair.
At a time Michigan is realizing prisons cost too much, it seems to me cutting education is penny-wise and dollar foolish. Without the fundamental skills needed for jobs in the 21st century, what hope do Michigan’s kids have? And if qualified workers aren’t available, what business wants to locate in Michigan? It’s hard to argue with State Rep. George Cushingberry’s (D-Detroit) logic:
It’s time for all of us to grow up and be men and women who have the guts to put our money where our mouth is. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You have to pay the piper sometime, so today I’m doing my part to pay the piper.
I just don’t see education as being the thing that needs to be on the chopping block. I’d offer up programs like MIOSHA and DEQ which can be turned back over to the federal government. Michigan gains little, if anything (besides employing state workers), from handling these programs itself. This is where Cushingberry should be looking to put “our money where our mouth is.”
Cushingberry’s hoping some future revenue, such as a tax on bottled water or soda pop, will be able to bring back the Promise grants. Does he not get his constituents most need this assistance? Can’t he see Michigan needs educated citizens to lure the businesses of the 21st century? How does Cushingberry envision his constituents becoming productive, successful members of society if they can’t get the education they need? Has he not heard that hope is not a method?
There’s no question Michigan’s budget needs either cuts or increased revenues to work. Personally, I’m opposed to Gov. Granholm’s recent proposed tax hikes. Not that I’m opposed to tax hikes, but a penny on bottled water? Isn’t it already subject to the sales tax? And sales tax on live entertainment? Those tickets are already outrageously priced. How about applying the 6% sales tax to lottery tickets instead. But, I digress.
Education is a fundamental responsibility and core service of the state in the modern era. Underfunding and disincentivizing education at pre-collegiate and collegiate levels just doesn’t make sense for Michigan’s future. Urge your state representative and senator to vote against cutting education.