Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Senate Republicans to Cut Michigan Promise Scholarship, Other College Tuition Aid

Looks like Senate Republicans have solved the problem of all those college graduates leaving the state; just drive them out before they enroll in college, or make it so they don't go to college at all.

Wonder where all those government "reforms" they promised are. Wonder why the Republicans don't suggest those first, before they raise tuition costs through the roof for the 96,000 cash-strapped families and students who rely on the Promise Scholarship for aid. Could be they don't have any ideas for "reform" at all - they are just going to cut. Period.

Thousands of college students counting on state merit scholarships this fall may be in for a surprise, as lawmakers are poised to gut the state's financial aid budget.

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee will likely take the first step in that direction today when it takes up a bill to eliminate the Michigan Promise Scholarship and slash the budget for need-based grant programs.
The Michigan Promise Scholarship totals $4,000. Other need-based aid programs the Senate will cut:

Michigan Work Study program: $7.3 million, need-based program that helped 5,130 students last year at private and public colleges.

Part-Time Independent Student program: $2.7 million, need-based grant with maximum award of $600. Went to more than 6,000 students enrolled part-time at public and private colleges last year.

Michigan Education Opportunity Grants: $2.1 million, need-based grant worth up to $1,000. Went to more than 4,500 students last year at public institutions.
And some that may be reduced:

Tuition Grant program: $56.7 million, grants up to $2,100 to needy Michigan residents enrolled at independent colleges and universities. Last year, about 35,500 students received awards. Proposal calls for 44 percent funding cut.

State Competitive Scholarships: $35.5 million, grants up to $1,300 for needy Michigan residents who score at least a 23 composite on the ACT. Last year, 27,800 students received grants. Bill calls for 54 percent funding cut.

Nursing Scholarship program: $4.3 million, students pursuing nursing as a career can receive $4,000 a year. Nearly 1,600 students at public and private colleges received the award last year. Bill calls for 95 percent cut, leaving just $200,000 in funding.
"Living within our means" for the Republicans becomes disinvesting in our people and our state. At a time when a college education is a must for landing a good-paying job, and the high-growth advanced tech and health care businesses look to locate in places where there are educational opportunities for workers and an educated workforce to hire, the zeal to simply "cut" will have long-term implications for both our ability to retain younger people and our state's overall economic growth.

Gongwer tells us the cuts to aid will total $210 million, all of it in student aid because stimulus rules prevent other cuts to higher education.

But wait! That's not all! Gongwer also informs us that the Senate Republican plans to slash another 8% from Medicaid reimbursements, cutting around $200 million from that budget, which will severely impact hospitals, doctors, and long-term facilities. And guess what - those costs will be passed on to you. In what has become a health care cost death spiral, Spectrum Health has announced that for the third straight year, they are both raising rates and their Priority Health insurance premiums to cover the increasing costs of uninsured patients and lack of payment from Medicare and Medicaid.

Those rate hikes are to keep pace with the continuing rise in health care costs, as well as an increase in the number of the uninsured patients and patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid, he said.

Fees paid by those two government programs -- Medicare, the federal program for senior citizens, and Medicaid, the state/federal program for low-income residents -- fall far short of the hospital's cost of providing medical care, Freed said.

The hospital's rate increase would be closer to 3 percent, he said, "if everybody paid their fair share." To offset the Medicare and Medicaid losses, those covered by insurance will see the average increase of 6 percent, he said.
The "cut government" crowd sticks us all with another back-door tax increase - this will come on top of the 4% cut health providers saw earlier this year, and already the Michigan State Medical Society and the Health Care Association of Michigan are blasting the cuts with worries that people will simply flood the emergency rooms instead, as is already happening now. Which, of course, will simply raise rates again next year. And so on.

This is just the start of the Republicans call to "live within our means" - major increases in costs for education and health care for you. Stay tuned for more "right sizing" of your wallet to come.