Posts Tagged ‘michigan

29
Sep
07

A letter to my old D.A.R.E. officer

DARE and alcohol

I’d encourage anyone else I know who had Sgt. Stakoe as their DARE officer in elementary school to shoot him a letter — something short… it couldn’t hurt.

Dear Representative Stakoe,

Though I no longer live in your district, I grew up in Milford and had the privilege of having you as my DARE officer at Kurtz Elementary School, years ago. It always was exciting to talk to a real police officer as a young kid, and you related well to each student. I gave the speech at the DARE graduation ceremony — it was exciting, and something to remember. As I’ve talked to my classmates after graduating high school, many remember the excitement of holding the DARE bear in class, and nearly all remember you vividly. Clearly, you cared a great deal for education and for working with students then, and I imagine you feel the same way now.

That is why I am asking that through the negotiations on the budget mess in Lansing now, you don’t forget about the students of Michigan. While there is waste in government, and there are clearly ways Michigan could save money, it should not do so by cutting funding to K-12 schools and higher education, or by forgoing the recommended 2.5% increase in funding to K-12, higher ed, and community colleges proposed in the Governor’s budget recommendations. The Cherry Commission found that expanding access to education in our state was critical, especially as we transition away from a manufacturing-based economy. Over the last ten years, Michigan ranks 47th among all states in terms of increases in per student appropriations for education, and consequently fewer and fewer of our state’s students are able to afford college compared to other states. I’m fortunate to be able to attend Michigan State University, but others just as qualified do not have the same privilege. Cutting funding to higher education, community colleges, and K-12 education in this state would only make things worse, and would in effect be taxing those students who are scraping by to afford college by the inevitable tuition increases that would follow. Don’t balance the budget on the backs of Michigan’s students; to do so would be counterproductive to the long-term goal of making our state a place for people to invest in and an attractive place to move to.

I know these must be incredibly difficult times to be a state legislator, with criticism coming from all sides for seemingly everything you guys do. However, I’m confident that you won’t forget Michigan’s students in the negotiations. We haven’t forgotten you.

Thank you very much,

Graham Davis
East Lansing, MI

28
Sep
07

The shutdown and MSU

John Hannah

Vague but still scary (from a PDF from the MSU Office of Planning and Budgets):

  • Reduction of capital expenditures; postponing “significant capital projects”
  • In the event of an “extended shutdown,” suspending “State of Michigan-funded grant programming”
  • The State already owes MSU $30 million from last August’s scheduled payment (the state sends appropriations to universities monthly) — that would be delayed even more.
  • The MSU Extensions might shut down.
  • Each month, MSU would miss another $30 million payment. Even though this should (hopefully?) be restored when the government would come back online, it’ll be tight in the meanwhile.
  • Also in jeopardy: $3 million/month in specific grants and contracts, funds expected from the state for the Chemistry Building addition will be delayed, and the Michigan Education Trust and Michigan Competitive Scholarships, both of which pay out in October.

So far, MSU says that “this impact would be fully absorbed by the university, not our students.” I guess it depends how long a shutdown would last.

28
Sep
07

This is a mess

Just in from the Detroit News:

A state panel on Friday deadlocked over a rule change that would have let state workers be laid off up to 20 days if there is a government shutdown.

The 2-2 vote of the bipartisan Civil Service Commission drew a standing ovation from state employees and complicated efforts by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to lay off workers if a budget deal is not reached by the time the new fiscal year starts Monday.

A rule change would have waived layoff notice requirements and other provisions in workers’ union contracts. The state now may not be able to lay off any workers for between two weeks and a month without violating contracts.

So, if we shut the government down — the state will get slammed with dozens of lawsuits from employees claiming breach of contract. If we don’t — more stalling on getting a deal done, and the state going further into debt each day. Ugh.

27
Sep
07

Your State GOP

While Michigan slides toward disaster, Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan GOP, urges Republicans to not negotiate with Democrats and to “move expeditiously to shift the blame to her (Granholm).” It’s from a Republican site

27
Sep
07

Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice

Detroit pastoralOminous news out of Lansing:

Tonight, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm will address the citizens of Michigan on the state budget crisis and the possibility of a partial shutdown of state government. The governor’s address is being made available to television and radio stations across the state. The five-minute address will begin at 6:05 p.m.

Granholm will brief citizens on the status of the budget crisis and the negotiations that are underway to resolve the $1.75 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins Monday, October 1.

On Wednesday, the governor announced that without a comprehensive solution to prevent massive cuts to public safety, health care, and education, a partial shutdown of state government will be ordered beginning Monday.

I don’t see how this will be resolved. Senator Bishop (R-Rochester) is demanding that Granholm sign a continuation budget to move the deadline back for passing a budget by thirty days. “She needs to sign a continuation budget in good faith so that both sides have more time to respond,” Bishop says — adding that they may need yet another extension after that to get the job done. However, for every month the legislature delays, the state’s deficit grows by $175 million. It’s not like Granholm wants to shut the government down — after all, it’s the citizens of Michigan who lose the most in a shutdown (like preschoolers up near Clare, already told to stay home from their state-funded preschool; or anyone who uses state parks, all of which will be closed; or the City of Detroit, which will lose $440,000 a day in tax payments from its three casinos, all of which will close; or all of the families relying on the state to provide child support, food stamps, Medicaid, or protective services workers). No, no one wants to shut the government down — but passing a continuation budget to keep delaying making a tough decision would only make things worse. Michigan’s state income tax is a flat 3.9 percent, while most other states employ a progressive tax that’s higher in some brackets than ours, like Minnesota’s 5.35 to 7.85 percent tax, or Ohio’s 0.649 to 6.555 percent tax.

Both the Republicans and the Democrats have too much to lose at this point by backing down — but ultimately Michigan will lose the most. What kind of a signal does it send to businesses looking to invest in Michigan that our legislators aren’t even responsible enough to complete their only constitutionally obligatory duty: passing a budget? While the Republicans indicate that they’d be willing to support some sort of (small) tax hike, they insist that it be tied to a “reforms” package that does little to make Michigan’s long-term outlook better. Sen. Bishop’s package of cuts eliminates the Granholm-proposed 2.5% increase in state aid to state universities, K-12 schools, and community colleges — which, I suppose is a great way to run the state into the ground further, considering that expanding access to education at all levels is essential in making the transition away from a totally manufacturing-based economy. Michigan ranks 44th in terms of state appropriations per student, and 47th in a ranking of growth of state educational appropriations from 1997 to 2007. While our neighboring states are increasing funding for their schools in the double-digits, Michigan’s leaders want to keep racing to the bottom — if Bishop and the Republicans get their way, I’m sure it won’t be long until Michigan is dead last in terms of money spent per student. That’ll be something to brag about.

This state has made cuts. I mean, two years ago Republicans obstructed Granholm’s proposal for $200 million in cuts in the state budget. In 2003, Granholm cut $379.8 million — and Republicans still bitched about that: “Chairman Marc Shulman, R-West Bloomfield, said he opposed the order because he was displeased with the way it was reached, in a deal between the Democratic governor and Sikkema.” All in all, under Granholm we’ve seen four straight years of budget cuts totaling $3 billion. Clearly, this governor has no problem in making budget cuts when necessary (including making cuts to education, a courageous move, considering the Michigan Educational Association is one of her strongest backers). Bishop’s package of cuts would gut social services and education, and would put 6700 state employees out of work.

Is this the kind of state we want to live in? I thought Michiganders took care of each other; that even the Republicans wouldn’t try to beat up on Michigan’s poorest, worst-off citizens out of sheer cowardice, or just blind contempt. I thought Michigan residents value health care, value education, and value being able to buy hard liquor and lottery tickets. I just wish Michigan’s legislators had the same values.




Twitter

About

Graham Davis lives in Lansing, Michigan.