Michigan is failing to meet its need for investment in higher education and state policy makers account for this as a failure in priorities, a Detroit News column by Daniel Howes said.
In 2012, the state spent 1.3 billion dollars on higher education but allocated 2 billion dollars for the state’s prisons.
Undergraduate enrollment at Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan has increased, however, and violent crime rates have gone down.
“We’re going in the wrong direction in this country, we need to look at our past in order to help our future,” said Preston Boyd, an EMU freshman majoring in history.
Because Michigan’s prisons are generally smaller than those of other states, it limits their ability to obtain economies of scale from operating larger facilities.
“Higher education is vital to Michigan’s long-term success,” Leigh Greden, executive director of government and community relations at EMU, said in a statement. “A growing number of Republicans, Democrats and business leaders agree that spending more on higher education is wise public policy. A college degree is an outstanding investment.”
“College graduates have a lower unemployment rate and higher earnings than those without a college degree,” Greden said. “We share the state’s desire for ensuring value for the money that taxpayers invest in higher education. That’s why EMU has led the state in tuition restraint, reduced the number of administrative positions while hiring new faculty and dramatically increased spending on institutional financial aid.”
EMU junior Velma Sellars said, “If we spend more on the higher education system, there might be less people in prisons, which means less money spent in prisons.”
State spending on higher education for students declined by 35 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to the Business Leaders for Michigan.
Mary Ogilvie, a pre-dentistry freshman, agreed with Sellars.
“Invest the money in stopping the production of criminals, rather than punishing them after they’ve already committed crimes,” she said.
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