Cynical Synapse

Tue, 30 Mar 2010

Granholm’s “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal”

Filed under: Budget, Education, Government, Governor, Michigan, Politics, Schools, Taxes, Unions — cynicalsynapse @ 6:15 am

Granholm pointing down

I’m not sure what Michigan’s Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) has in her pipe, but she continues to say the wildest things, even if she means good. Granholm told MSNBC Michigan has “a big, hairy, audacious goal of doubling our number of college graduates.” Now, what kind of phraseology is that with respect to higher education?

Of course, Granholm’s remarks, 29 March, are more about her call to extend Michigan’s sales tax to services. I’m sure the Governor is all the more anxious about this since the Republican-led Michigan Senate passed a budget measure, cutting K-12 funds by $112 per pupil. Increasing taxes is the easy, but unsustainable, short-term fix to Michigan’s structural deficit.

The Senate’s cuts to K-12 funding follow on the heals of there chopping 3% from public universities and community colleges. So, how does Granholm expect to get more graduates with less money across all levels of education?

student hostages

“The long-term future of the state depends upon strong universities,” said Peggy Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan. In an effort to double the number of college graduates who stay in Michigan, Granholm proposed a revised Promise scholarship. Michigan college graduates would be eligible for a $4,000 refundable credit on their income tax return after working a year in Michigan past graduation. Students don’t like it and the state Senate didn’t take the bait.

Education, and students, are being held hostage by state politicians, educational institutions, local school bureaucracies, and teachers’ unions. Per pupil funding is not the issue nor is the state’s stipend to community colleges and universities. The problem is per pupil costs, about half of which are not attributable to the classroom or education. There are a lot of cost reduction efforts schools should consider before raising taxes. Remember those so-called “legacy costs” of the automakers that were in the news a year ago? Guess what? Schools have “legacy” costs, too, and they’re blatant about it. Everyone wanted Big 3 retirees to give up benefits. How about school retirees? I choose whether or not to contribute to automaker retirees by what car I buy, but I have no choice with school retirees.

protest in front of MEA

Michigan didn’t fare well at all in Race to the Top, the Federal educational dollars competition. Michigan lost points, ending up 21st, because teacher unions didn’t sign on. They don’t care about education, they only care about member benefits.

Granholm’s problem is she has great ideas, but they’re all “blown away.” She wants to double college graduates, but both K-12 and higher education are under-funded. She says college graduates are key to Michigan’s future, but the Promise grants are gone. I’m seeing big and hairy, but I’m not seeing audacious coming through.

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