Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Budget Committee Approves Elimination of Michigan Promise Scholarship

This is just a tweet from MPR's Rick Pluta at this point - will fill in details later.

rickpluta House and Senate committee approves higher education budget that eliminates the Michigan Promise college scholarship.

UPDATE: Props to the Freep for getting this up so quick:

A House and Senate conference committee has voted to eliminate the Michigan Promise tuition grant for 96,000 college students this year as part of a new state budget for universities.

The budget also trims another $60 million in financial aid in a plan on which the conference committee chair voted no.

Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing, objected to the elimination of the Promise grant and other cuts, saying it would rank Michigan down with Mississippi and Puerto Rico in its financial support for college students.


The committee voted 4-2 on the $1.6-billion spending plan for the state’s 15 public universities. One other Democrat Sen.James Barcia, D-Bay City, also voted no.

Rep. George Cushingberry, D-Detroit, voted for the conference report. Cushingberry said without money to pay for the scholarships – the state faces a $2.8-billion deficit next year – it would be irresponsible to vote for them.

In other budget news, Dillon claims they are still on target to get budgets out of committee by today. A tax on doctors is being considered to fill (some of) the DCH budget cuts:

Rep. Gary McDowell, D-Rudyard, said key legislators are looking at a tax ranging from 1.7 percent to 4 percent that would be paid by doctors and other health care providers.

"The lower the rate, the better chance we have of getting it passed. But it will be very, very difficult," he said. "We're looking at how soon we could implement it. We're hoping we could get six months of revenue."

The money generated by the tax on doctors would allow the state to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates to physicians and hospitals and draw additional federal match money, McDowell said. As it stands, the budget bill for community health would cut reimbursement rates.

And they have kept wetlands protection in the state - but have cut other environmental programs, leading Liz Brater to reject the committee report.

The state wetlands protection program is saved, and the departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality are combined under a budget bill approved today by a House-Senate panel.

The spending plan approved by the conference committee also cuts some environmental protection programs, which prompted Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, to refuse to sign the panel's report.

"Under this bill, the pollution of our streams and lakes will go unregulated," Brater said, adding, "I hope we will be able to breathe the air in the state of Michigan."

More later...