Bored today. Road trip. Knew this would need some publicity. The only news coverage I saw offhand was WXYZ from Detroit, so here, for the rest of the state, are some shots from the "Save Our Schools Rally" today at the Capitol.
These guys are organized. Led by Tom White (he is the guy at the podium), the S.O.S. group is compromised of various school associations, and today they brought a group of students and parents from Farmington to lobby the legislators for school funding. Farmington, like everyone, is facing severe cuts, closing buildings, laying off over a hundred people.
S.O.S. has a professional web site. They have hats. They have buttons. They have t-shirts. They have signs. And they are serious. After a couple of speeches outside, complete with chants of "Do Your Job!" from the crowd, they all went inside to hunt down those lawmakers and give them what for. The Senate was already done for the day, a few folks from Appropriations were still there - so they went up to find them. Mike Bishop was around too, and they stuffed his meeting office with people - there is a picture of the overflow towards the end of the set. (I think the bald guy is Matt Marsden, but I'm not sure.) The House was still in session, but no Dillon to be found. That is his empty spot at the end. At least they could go talk to their Rep.
So, next time some legislator uses the excuse "we need pressure" - know that they are being pressured. Seems these rallies are happening all the time. I've been to three now. It's fun to watch these kids swarm the halls with their signs, determined looks on their faces, they are going to find someone, darn it. The great thing about all these protests is that we are raising a new generation to be aware of the process - and to speak up for what they need.
You go, kids. Don't take "no" for an answer. Our state depends on it.
UPDATE: As this was happening, a subcommittee in the Senate voted to cut the per-pupil by $118 - and make the deficit in the general fund deeper.
A Senate subcommittee voted Wednesday to cut aid to schools by $118 per pupil next year. The plan minimizes the cut by taking $195.6 million from the general fund -- a maneuver that deepens the potential general fund deficit. Granholm has said she won't accept cuts to school funding.
The Senate budget plan assumes the Legislature will reduce school employee pensions enough to save school districts $207 million.
Prediction: This budget will be a flaming train wreck of spectacular proportions by the time they are done. Shifting money around and assuming savings in other areas is a recipe for disaster.