Just as the controversy of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s tax overhaul was settling down, the Michigan Legislature passed a disastrous budget that will have negative implications for years to come. Michigan’s government may be moving things along, but it is becoming clear that lawmakers aren’t headed in the right direction. The tax overhaul was a risky step that increased taxes on the poor and pensions in favor of businesses, and the proposed budget will create even deeper and longer-lasting problems in Michigan. If Snyder is trying to improve the future of Michigan, he must not pass this budget.

The budget’s education cuts are the most devastating alterations that the Legislature approved. K-12 funding will be cut by 2.2 percent, though this number can be reduced if schools implement various Republican-favored initiatives. If, for example, schools require teachers to pay into insurance policies and pensions, they will get extra state funding. These demands will be hard to meet, especially in the immediate future. As schools adjust to the cuts, many students and teachers will be caught in the evolution of the system, and the students currently enrolled will have to bear the brunt of these consequences.

In a world that is placing increased emphasis on education, universities are essential to Michigan’s progress. The brain drain is already bad enough in the state, but with less funding for colleges, there will be less attending them, making Michigan far less competitive. A 15-percent cut is hardly a small reduction, and universities are going to have a difficult time making up this gap. Many students will be unable to attend a college or university because of the inevitable increase in tuition or the reduction in financial aid. It is crucial that people from all means receive access to higher education, but the proposed budget does nothing to facilitate this necessity.

Welfare will also see its funds diminished, so poor families will have to find other ways to make ends meet. According to a May 27 Detroit Free Press article, under the state’s current system, a family without a paycheck receives $492 per month. 15 percent of families will lose these meager benefits and will have to figure out how to sustain themselves on whatever they have left. Considering the state of the economy, it’s hard to imagine how these people will be able to enter the job market.

The proposed budget also cuts the funding of Michigan correctional facilities by 3.5 percent. In a state that spends more on prisons than education, this policy seems like a no-brainer. Yet even this initiative is tainted by poor alternatives. One cost-cutting measure is the outsourcing of incarceration to private prisons, which will only spur the growth of prison populations and the costs associated with it.

Many Republicans are patting each other on the back for the speed with which the budget was passed, but it seems they opted for immediacy instead of quality. The Legislature may be taking measures to reduce the deficit, but each step falls short of real progress. Certain efforts may help Michigan in the short-term, but the long-term implications do not bode well for the future success of the state.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.