Granholm: 'We didn't have to rob students'
During a conference call this past Thursday, Gov. Granholm discussed the importance of finding a way to get the Promise Scholarship back in the state’s budget.
The scholarship was eliminated from the state’s budget on Oct. 30.
The Promise Scholarship was merit based and it provided up to $4,000 for students.
In total, 96,000 students were affected by the scholarship being cut.
The financial aid department at Eastern Michigan University expected between 2,200 and 2,400 students to receive the scholarship for the academic year of 2009-10.
Gov. Granholm believes that the scholarship did not have to be cut completely from the budget.
“Our administration developed the Promise Scholarship,” Granholm said. “We’ve had tough budgets and tough cuts before, but this time the legislature really blew it. We did not have to rob students of a promise and jeopardize Michigan’s future.”
The governor hopes to use the Earned Income Tax Credit to pay for the scholarship. The EITC is a refundable tax credit aimed at low-income workers.
“We can pay for the [scholarship] by slowing the phase-in of the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Granholm said. “That’s one way we can pay for it, and the senate has already identified it as an acceptable form of revenue.”
The governor believes that using some of the funds that are currently allocated for the EITC would fully cover the cost of the scholarship. According to the governor, the Promise Scholarship costs approximately $100 million and the EITC costs $160 million.
“The reason why this form of revenue would work is because I would propose that there be an increase in the tax credit from 10 percent to 12.5 percent,” Granholm said. “There will be an increase in the money that goes into the pockets of working families and we could also save the Promise Scholarship.”
“There certainly isn’t a consensus between the governor and the legislature about priorities,” Granholm said. “I believe we must invest in education. The Senate believed it was more important to cut than provide the funding to protect education from being deeply cut.”
“We need students to know that this fight is on,” Granholm said, “and we can win it. If the students disagree with the Senate, this is an opportunity to exercise their voices in a democracy and tell their legislators that that’s not what they hired them for.”
The governor believes the scholarship affects the number of college graduates who remain in state, which can have a significant impact on the economy.
“The Michigan Promise is critical to our goal of doubling the number of college graduates in Michigan,” Granholm said. “That is the key part of the plan to diversify and to grow Michigan’s economy.”
Gov. Granholm discussed a technology company, Liquid Web, that plans to hire people and how the scholarship cuts could affect that hiring in Michigan.“They are concerned that if education funding is cut they won’t be able to hire the skilled workforce, and they would have to go outside of Michigan,” Granholm explained.
“We must be providing the employees of the future. It is so critical to our economic future.”
Granholm commended universities such as Saginaw Valley State and Michigan State that have decided to provide their students with funds to cover what was lost by the scholarship being cut.
“The universities that have made that decision are doing that out of tremendous leadership and benevolence,” Granholm said, “but ultimately it is the state’s commitment.
If we don’t do this, the universities end up taking the money out of some other place where it was needed.”
Some students believe the state is not doing enough to help students pay for college. DeMarque Spence, a professional biochemistry major, was a recipient of the scholarship.
“I don’t think the state has contributed enough for college kids’ funds,” Spence said. “With the Promise Scholarship gone, that’s a big slap in the face for the recipients because the state is not keeping its promise.”
Others place blame squarely on Granholm’s shoulders.
Chris McKelvie, a social studies major and Iraq War veteran, said he is disappointed in Granholm, and has plans to move out of Michigan.
“Eight years is enough for her to do something,” McKelvie said. “Michigan is going downhill in my opinion and once I graduate, I’m gone. She’s failed Michigan, she’s failed veterans, she’s failed all