Two weeks ago, State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop announced the Senate Republicans’ plan to solve Michigan’s budget problems before the Oct. 1 deadline. His plan, which was formed without consulting Governor Jennifer Granholm or House Democrats, represents the core of the Michigan Republican Party’s ideology — namely, the decimation of state services. Bishop’s budget is bad for working families, students, police, doctors, firefighters, local governments and low-income communities. It would roll back any progress our state has made over the last several years toward a new, stable economy.

The bill would cut:

• Michigan Promise Grant college scholarship: $140 million.
• Other college financial aid programs and scholarships: $48 million.
• Reimbursement for community colleges for property tax revenue lost because of renaissance zones: $4 million.
• $14 a month from Supplemental Security Income, which provides assistance to the elderly and people with disabilities who live independently: $30 million.
• Payment rates to health care providers who treat Medicaid patients by 8 percent: $355 million.
• Substance abuse services by 5 percent: $1 million.
• Healthy Michigan programs that combat infant mortality, minority health, poison control centers, senior nutrition services and diseases ranging from heart disease to arthritis: $20 million.
• Revenue sharing payments to local governments (police, firefighters, other city services): $90 million.

This is only a sample of the severe cuts this bill makes to our state’s government. And the bill wouldn’t raise a single dollar of additional revenue. Bishop’s plan doesn’t attempt to close loopholes in Michigan’s severely flawed tax system or propose any additional changes to the state’s structural deficit. This is a reckless attempt to strangle the government to the detriment of students and working families.

What’s worse, Speaker of the House Andy Dillon — without having proposed a budget resolution plan of his own — agrees with Bishop and is willing to adopt the Republican plan. Dillon is a Democrat, and has pledged to secure Democratic support for this disastrous bill.

The College Democrats at the University of Michigan cannot stand for this plan or anyone who supports it. Eviscerating the budget in this way will irreparably harm Michigan. If young people are the future of this state, the Bishop/Dillon proposal is killing any hope for Michigan’s future. The proposed programs to be cut are proof of that. On top of cutting health services for children, the bill would eliminate the Michigan Promise Scholarship, dealing a severe blow to students. 96,000 students statewide rely on this program, and over 5,000 students here at the University are eligible for the program’s scholarships.

There is some pushback against the Bishop/Dillon budget deal, and Granholm still has the ability to veto the final budget bill. The budget bills proposed by Granholm and the Senate Democrats made significant cuts, yet retained essential funding for education, police, medical and fire and added additional revenue to help the state deal with the deficit. Unfortunately, this movement is up against significant opposition that is committed to cramming through a flawed budget at all costs.

In short, the Bishop/Dillon budget will hurt the quality of our education, health care and public services, and, as a result, our state’s future. We need a budget that preserves these essentials that we — as students and residents of Michigan — rely on and deserve.

This viewpoint was written by DJ Heebner, Lindsay Miars and Nathaniel Eli Coats Styer on behalf of the University’s chapter of the College Democrats.

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