Thursday, March 18, 2010

Senate Appropriations Cuts Funding to K-12, Higher Education, and Health Care Budgets

Senate Republicans are planning on an all-cuts budget that would continue the devastation already done to Michigan schools and health care. Big, big thanks to Mark Hornbeck at the DNews for putting this together in such a concise description.

• School aid: The Senate cuts spending for public schools by $118 per pupil in addition to the $165 a student cut made this year. That reduction would be offset by reforms to lower school district retirement costs and taps $195 million from the cash-starved general fund. The governor proposed extending the sales tax to most services to provide $554 million for public schools and has said she will not sign a budget that cuts education.

• Higher education: Universities and community colleges take a 3.1 percent cut under the Senate bills. Granholm would maintain higher education spending.

• Community health: The Senate would cut $830 million from the governor's plan. The bill rejects Granholm's call for a physician tax, reduces by 4 percent Medicaid rates paid to some doctors and eliminates Medicaid for young adults and relatives who care for Medicaid-eligible children. Community mental health funding also is slashed by 20 percent in the Senate bill.

• Corrections: The Senate slightly increases spending for state prisons, socking more money into jail reimbursement to local governments, substance abuse programs and services to help released inmates return to society. Granholm proposed a $130 million reduction in corrections, paid for by reinstating good time to reduce inmate populations and closing several prisons.

How did they increase spending on prisons? They are going to tell the Dept. of Corrections to "find the savings" at a 3.5% per-prisoner rate. Unfortunately, the Dept. of Corrections costs per prisoner have gone up 17% over the past two years, due to factors beyond their control. It's not happening. Senate Republicans are also assuming that they could pass the state employee pay issue - which failed again today. The Corrections budget they are proposing is based on fiscal fantasy, all the while continuing to play the "fear" card to try and scare citizens about releasing those that have served minimum sentences.

These budgets prove that Republicans don't have any real ideas when it comes to reforming our state's tax structure. They will not address our chronic deficits or adequately fund our schools, universities, prisons or health care services - which will cost you more in the long run as backdoor tax increases. Items such as higher tuition for college, pay-to-play sports and other program cuts or cost increases in high schools, higher health insurance rates as hospitals and other health care providers try to make up the cuts to Medicaid, it will be passed on to you one way or the other. And we haven't even gotten into all the lost jobs that will have to happen as the result of these budgets.

All Republicans can do is cut, cut, cut - and leave the local schools, cities and hospitals to clean up the mess after they get done. They will not even look at the service tax expansion. They are passing up the elimination of the MBT surcharge. They know they can get away with doing things like this because Andy Dillon and the House Democrats will not stand up to them. How is that working out for us, Mr. Speaker?

Granholm is still threatening to shut down the government over K-12 cuts. If this is the way this is going to go down, let's hope she does - and it takes all these lawmakers out at the ballot box when election day rolls around.

The citizens of Michigan have got some cuts of their own to make.