LANSING (AP) – Gov. Jennifer Granholm walked into her new job in January knowing the state had serious budget problems.
But even Granholm was shocked to learn how far in the hole Michigan has fallen. Not only does spending for the next fiscal year need to be slashed by up to $2 billion to make ends meet, but the current budget has a $292 million shortfall as well.
That reality may mean a lot of deferred promises for Granholm, who delivers her first annual State of the State address on Wednesday.
While she said during her campaign that she wants to bring more good jobs to Michigan, pay for more preschool and after-school care and beef up the number of workplace safety inspectors, Granholm now must find ideas that can be done with no new money, or in partnership with private entities.
She already has had to break a campaign pledge to try to shield public schools from budget cuts. With a $134 million hole in the current school aid budget, Granholm has proposed trimming per-pupil grants and money for programs such as adult education and remedial reading.
But Granholm spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said the governor still is deeply interested in helping schools improve and in guiding Michigan toward a better future. Granholm laid out a blueprint for doing that in a 79-page campaign platform entitled, “Securing Michigan’s Future.”
“Everything listed in that book is still a priority for the governor,” Dettloff says. “She understands that it’s not a perfect world right now in terms of creating new programs because of the budget crisis the state is facing.
“However, that doesn’t mean that she is going to give up on certain programs.”
Granholm has been trying to come up with an agenda that’s cheap but doable since her Jan. 1 inauguration as the state’s first Democratic governor in 12 years.