Michigan lawmakers give lip service to all kinds of programs and causes, but what they spend the public's money on tells their true priorities. And based on the latest budget finagling, the state's public colleges and universities don't rate very high with them. [emphasis mine]Lansing cut funding to higher education a total of $275 million between 2002-2006. Combine that funding cut with escalating health insurance expenses, and our colleges and universities are in even deeper water. And while it's true that tuition has been rising across the country for all students, so has state support for universities. According to the FJ, there's been "a 14 percent increase in state support for universities nationally over the past two years."
By cutting or delaying about $180 million to these institutions as part of a recent budget-balancing maneuver, Lansing puts the lie to its sermons about education being Michigan's salvation.
Instead, they've likely made college more expensive for students - continuing a trend over many years - and undermined these schools' abilities to pursue the research and innovation a knowledge economy requires.
The FJ also points out how hypocritical it is for lawmakers to talk up a futuristic agenda that requires the "best and brightest" workforce, yet they turn around and cut funding to higher education. That's some message they're sending. They want highly educated workers, but they don't want to pay for them. Of course, they claim there's a reason for that.
Naturally, lawmakers would argue that declining revenues made cuts to colleges unavoidable. Yet they never stopped tax rollbacks that would have supplied more funding.The scales should be falling from voters eyes: The Flint Journal earlier reported that Republicans were most responsible for these cuts.
Whether it's a household or the statehouse, people usually find money for what they deem important. Therefore, Michigan's stinting on higher ed over the years leaves little else to be said. [emphasis mine]
It appears the "family values party" isn't very family friendly.