Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Let's make a deal- trading college students for welfare recipients

Why is DeRoche still being a weasel about the Merit Scholarship? Because we are going to bargain away on the welfare bill. It's a trade- the poor for the college students.

People's lives being used as poker chips.

Yes, I'm new to this planet. One of these days I will learn.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to increase the Michigan Merit Award scholarship to $4,000 for students who complete at least two years of college cleared a big hurdle Tuesday and was headed for final approval in the state House.

The bigger scholarship would be available to high school seniors who will graduate in 2007.

The plan, which Granholm called the most important issue before lawmakers, could be snagged in political deal-making as the lame-duck Legislature wraps up its final days before Dec. 31. After that, the bill would have to be re-introduced.

But its near-unanimous approval Tuesday by the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee signaled its likely passage. The bill has already passed the Senate.

House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, said there could be a House vote on the bill this week, but said it's not a done deal yet.

"There are some kinks and bugs we're concerned about," DeRoche said. He added, "We're examining it in the context of everything we intend to act on in the next five days."

Craig was referring to the welfare bill passing in the Senate, I believe. Granholm is putting her foot down- nothing is getting through unless she gets the Merit approved. Or so it seems.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state Senate on Tuesday continued the Republican press for welfare changes by passing legislation that would limit Michigan recipients to four years of cash assistance.

But Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm said the GOP-led Legislature should not consider welfare limits until first increasing the Merit Award college scholarship.

The Senate's welfare vote may further set the table for lame-duck bartering between Granholm and Republicans, who will lose control of the House in January.

"If they approve Merit, then we can talk about other issues," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said of Republicans.

The Senate voted 22-16 to pass a four-year lifetime welfare limit, which would not apply to people with learning disabilities, certain physical limitations and chronic mental health problems. Because the House passed a similar bill last week, the legislation could reach Granholm soon - depending on how GOP leaders decide to proceed.

A shocking display of humanity came from the Senate- although it was Shirley Johnson again. She probably bothers the Pubs as much as someone like Sak bothers me.

But Democrats and one Republican cited Michigan's poor economy as a reason to be wary of the legislation, also questioning how the measure might hurt children. The Granholm administration said it is confident in a new state program that concentrates more on training and educating welfare recipients rather than just finding them a job.

"Instead of thinking of the adults and kicking them in the butts because they're not working fast enough for you, think about those little kids," said Sen. Shirley Johnson, R-Troy.

Finally we see some concern for the kids. It's about time.

I could have sworn we were facing some federal penalties if we didn't revamp welfare, so I think this had to be done anyway. None of the stories mention it and I really don't have time to track down a bunch of dead links at mlive. As much as I hate to see little kids get cut-off from assistance, we need to keep the Feds happy, too. Gotta keep that cash rolling in.