As Michigan prepares to establish a balance budget and avoid another government shutdown like 2007, Governor Granholm has made a difficult decision and cut $60 million of school aid to select districts. With Michigan facing numerous problems such as high unemployment, businesses and residents packing up and leaving the state, and a post collapse of the auto industry; it is no surprise that direct action must be taken in order to stabilize and restart the economy here. However, a cut in education would be taking a severe step backwards.
The governor and democrats answer to the keep some of the budget in student aid intact would be to raise taxes on items such as beer, cigarettes, as well as make some cuts in other areas such as police, fire, some emergency services, and correctional facilities. Now cutting the budget in these areas are by far not any better as cutting education, but the reason that education should be spared is that if Michigan is to have a future once the national economy starts to recover, then it is by far important that we have a well-educated workforce living in Michigan. Having a well-sustained aid program to all schools in the state is key. The cuts in education are intended to target several Michigan promise grants and scholarship programs and K-12 education funding.
On the other hand, Republican senators who control the house refuse to vote for a tax increase and would prefer to proceed with cuts in education, as well as others, in order to trim the current deficit of $2.8 billion dollars. This leads to politicians on both sides going in circles about the debate while time runs out for solutions and leads students, both in college and grade school, caught between a rock and a hard place.
Yes, we know Michigan currently has very little or no money to continue spending and yes we know until the state and national economy show signs of recovery, that we must make difficult cuts in certain areas of our infrastructure. However, unless Republicans and Democrats can just stop for one moment and put aside the rivalry and just negotiate on a solution to the problem we have, then the crisis we face in education as well as the deficit as a whole will just continue to repeat itself. We will just continue to have to come up with a last minute solution that would be nothing more than a small Band Aid on an open wound.
One solution to the education cuts would be to consolidate and combine resources in school districts; maybe even merge districts together. While this may sound like a radical move, this may reduce some spending on certain resources such as transportation of elementary students, basic supplies and books.
Another solution would be to reevaluate how certain taxes, and tax breaks, are helping and hurting the states ability to bring in annual revenue. For example, we are currently providing the largest tax break for film and television programs to come and setup shop for movies to make their next feature. While in the long run, this is providing a foundation for our state to provide a new form of export the program itself may be too expensive for the state to continue between now and when the economy shows signs of recovery.
Although the current economic crisis has done our state a great deal of damage and adjustments must be done with the way we spend money, we should only focus on cutting funds on services that will not have a major effect on the states future.