Progress Michigan http://www.progressmichigan.org Uncompromised progressive politics for Michigan. Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:20:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Progress Michigan Calls on GOP to Support Net Neutrality http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/progress-michigan-calls-gop-support-net-neutrality/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/progress-michigan-calls-gop-support-net-neutrality/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:14:34 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38003 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan February 25, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Progress Michigan Calls on GOP to Support Net Neutrality For once, Senate Republicans should support equality, not corporate giants LANSING — Earlier today, according to media reports, the Senate Republicans passed a non-binding resolution urging President Barack Obama, Congress and the Federal Communications […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan

February 25, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Progress Michigan Calls on GOP to Support Net Neutrality

For once, Senate Republicans should support equality, not corporate giants

LANSING — Earlier today, according to media reports, the Senate Republicans passed a non-binding resolution urging President Barack Obama, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to not support net neutrality.

Net neutrality rules will be discussed later this week by the FCC, which seeks to regulate the Internet like a public utility and will prohibit massive telecommunications corporations from speeding up or slowing down connection speeds to specific websites. Supporters of net neutrality say the rules will maintain equality across the web and will prevent wealthy corporations from picking and choosing based on a pay-to-play model who gets the faster connections.

“Net neutrality is a complicated federal issue that should be discussed in-depth without ramming through meaningless resolutions,” said Hugh Madden, communications director of Progress Michigan. “Sen. Kowall should do some research on the issues before doing the bidding of corporate lobbyists and campaign donors who only want to monopolize the Internet for their own profit.”

Progress Michigan supports the proposed FCC rules because it will ensure an equal playing field on the Internet for Michigan’s citizens and businesses.

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Progress Michigan Urges Gov. Snyder to Veto NRA-Backed Legislation http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/progress-michigan-urges-gov-snyder-veto-nra-backed-legislation/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/progress-michigan-urges-gov-snyder-veto-nra-backed-legislation/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:58:59 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38001 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan February 25, 2014 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Progress Michigan Urges Gov. Snyder to Veto NRA-Backed Legislation Legislature should focus on other issues to move Michigan forward LANSING — Progress Michigan is urging Gov. Rick Snyder to veto gun lobby-backed legislation that passed out of the House today that would […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News from Progress Michigan

February 25, 2014

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Progress Michigan Urges Gov. Snyder to Veto NRA-Backed Legislation

Legislature should focus on other issues to move Michigan forward

LANSING — Progress Michigan is urging Gov. Rick Snyder to veto gun lobby-backed legislation that passed out of the House today that would abolish county gun boards. The package of bills has moved swiftly through the legislature despite the fact that the process for obtaining a concealed pistol license is already streamlined.

“This bill isn’t about efficiency or cutting down on red tape, this bill is strictly a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist,”said Hugh Madden, communications director at Progress Michigan. “Michiganders need to be aware that our current laws have already streamlined the process for obtaining these licenses. We’re urging Gov. Snyder to, once again, veto this legislation as soon as it hits his desk.”

The legislature should have other priorities over appealing to the radical gun lobby and their rubber stamp legislators in Lansing. Michigan State Police data shows that the process for obtaining a concealed pistol license has been sufficiently streamlined.

From 2003 through 2013, the number of CPLs issued in Michigan rose from over 30,000 to more than 110,000 and the amount of time it takes for an FBI clearance dropped from 11 days to about 2 hours.

“This bill isn’t about moving Michigan forward, it’s about towing the line for gun lobbyists and appealing to far-right legislators,”Madden continued. “Rather than pushing out gun proliferation legislation, we should be passing laws that help reduce gun violence in our state.”

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Why Progressives Need to Stop Talking About Obama’s Patriotism http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/progressives-need-stop-talking-obamas-patriotism/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/progressives-need-stop-talking-obamas-patriotism/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:20:36 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37996 By Matthew Kovac Last week, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani sparked a media firestorm when he said he does not “believe that the president loves America.” Adding fuel to the fire, likely GOP presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker failed to disavow Giuliani’s remarks. Progressives have responded with outrage. But their real […]

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By Matthew Kovac

Last week, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani sparked a media firestorm when he said he does not “believe that the president loves America.” Adding fuel to the fire, likely GOP presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker failed to disavow Giuliani’s remarks. Progressives have responded with outrage. But their real response should be: so what?

Every time conservatives launch a far-out attack on Obama – whether it’s his alleged Muslim faith, his supposed Kenyan birthplace, or his “socialist” politics – progressives dutifully jump to his defense and play into the right wing’s narrative. It’s time they stop taking the bait.

By allowing conservatives’ wild accusations to set the terms of the debate, progressives wind up arguing absurdities like whether Obama loves the United States – something that is both impossible to quantify and irrelevant – when they really should be challenging the implied notion that patriotism is best expressed through escalating wars in the Middle East.

The result is that arguments over the morality and wisdom of certain policies are reduced to a shallow personal referendum. And they can’t afford to be. Because, ultimately, this isn’t about Obama. It’s about the lives of the people affected by his administration’s policies – and they have been effectively erased from the conversation. Rather than making Obama the focal point of debates, progressives must strive to keep impacted people’s lives and struggles front and center.

Not only does this obsessive focus on personality over policy distract from the issues at hand, it forecloses the possibility of more critical discussions and structural reforms. For example, after Obama announced his executive order to curb some – but not all – deportations, progressives fiercely defended him against right-wing charges that he had overstepped his authority. But, trapped in the right’s narrative and bogged down in legal minutiae, progressives have largely failed to advance a more expansive vision of immigration justice. That’s the danger of the personality trap: progressives are forced to adopt a defensive and reactionary posture, seeking to hold ground rather than seize new territory.

So why do progressives continue to engage in such a self-destructive practice? The sad truth is that it’s far easier for progressives to refute blatantly racist and nationalist attacks on Obama’s character than to explain some of his administration’s more controversial policies. It is easier, in other words, to call out Birthers and Tea Partiers than to challenge drones and deportations.

But that is precisely what progressives must do if we’re going to put the brakes on our country’s rightward lurch. In politics as in sports, the best defense is a strong offense. Until progressives learn to avoid falling into the personality trap and to advance a strong, critical social justice narrative that puts people first, the power of the right-wing media machine will only grow.

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Snyder and Walker: Assailing Workers’ Rights Across the Great Lakes http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/snyder-walker-assailing-workers-rights-across-great-lakes/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/snyder-walker-assailing-workers-rights-across-great-lakes/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:44:28 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37993 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan February 24, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Snyder and Walker: Assailing Workers’ Rights Across the Great Lakes Michigan proves it: Right to Work doesn’t create jobs, only hurts workers MICHIGAN — Today, Progress Michigan voiced solidarity with Wisconsin workers and unions as they challenge Gov. Scott Walker’s […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan

February 24, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org

Snyder and Walker: Assailing Workers’ Rights Across the Great Lakes

Michigan proves it: Right to Work doesn’t create jobs, only hurts workers

MICHIGAN — Today, Progress Michigan voiced solidarity with Wisconsin workers and unions as they challenge Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to force Right to Work on the state. Right to Work is a blatant attempt by the state’s far-right governor to weaken unions in favor of corporate profits, just like Gov. Rick Snyder did in 2012.

“Attacks on unions like this don’t help a state, they only hurt the collective power of its workers to bargain for better wages and working conditions,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Right to Work is nothing but a welcome mat for corporations that want to abuse and exploit workers. Gov. Snyder can’t point to a single job that has been created by Right to Work since it’s been implemented, something we hope Gov. Walker will consider before continuing his crusade against organized workers.”

ALEC model legislation like Right To Work is an attempt by corporate interests to weaken union power in order to maximize profits. Research shows that as union membership declines, the wealthy and well-connected stand to profit the most.

“We’re proud to voice solidarity with Wisconsin workers and progressives who are standing up for their rights and fighting this corporate-backed legislation,” Scott continued. “Gov. Walker and Gov. Snyder have proven time and again where their loyalties lie and it’s not with the hardworking people of the Great Lakes. Anytime and anywhere people mobilize to fight for a future that’s based on workers’ rights and not corporate profits, we’re proud to support them.”

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Soapy Williams: A Michigan Progressive http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/soapy-williams-michigan-progressive/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/soapy-williams-michigan-progressive/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:45:35 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37988 Inside the Michigan Capitol hang portraits of our past governors. The portraits seem to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings taking place each day. While many people walk past these without giving them much thought, I always take a moment to glance at the portrait of Governor G. Mennen Williams, who went by the […]

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Inside the Michigan Capitol hang portraits of our past governors. The portraits seem to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings taking place each day. While many people walk past these without giving them much thought, I always take a moment to glance at the portrait of Governor G. Mennen Williams, who went by the nickname Soapy, and wonder what he would say if he were around to witness the dismantling of Michigan’s middle class.

Williams was born 104 years ago today into a world very different from the one he left behind. Sadly, the world he was born into – one without many protections for workers, a place where equality was far from the norm, a world without the phrase “middle class” etched into the national psyche – seems to be the model that our current elected leaders are trying to recreate. Whether it is Governor Snyder stripping workers of needed workplace protections, or Attorney General Bill Schuette’s crusade-like battle against equality or the legislature’s continued attacks on the citizens they are sent to work in the interest of, it’s clear that today’s leaders lack the sense of fairness, progress and basic decency Soapy Williams was known for.

I won’t give a history lesson detailing all of the facets of Williams’ public service. If you want to learn about one of Michigan’s best governors you can read a great book about him. Soapy Williams served this state with a blunt personality that called out those who feared and opposed progress. His ability to stand up for progressive ideals was how he built a better Michigan.

One thing that should serve as a reminder of his leadership is his insistence on building the Mackinac Bridge. Despite wails of protest from people that said that it would cost too much or that the “market” should take care of our need to connect our two peninsulas, Williams marched forward with his progressive vision and got the job done. Maybe the building of the bridge is why voters believed that government could be a force for good more than they do today.  The simple act of doing something – despite its roadblocks – was proof that government can and did work.

Thanks to Soapy Williams, the Mighty Mac is a symbol of pride for all of Michigan. But let’s celebrate the bridge as a symbol of the work we can do when progressives stand up for what we believe in without listening to the naysayers. Let’s recommit ourselves to seek a pleasant peninsula where everyone is included, where rights are given and not taken and where we make progress instead of falling back.

I imagine that if Soapy were around today, he’d put on his trademark green and white polka dot bow tie and stand with progressives. I imagine he probably would use his blunt language to call out our current Governor for his policies that have set Michigan citizens back. Let’s honor Soapy by doing that today and in the days ahead.

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Media Accountability? http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/media-accountability/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/media-accountability/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 21:34:27 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37980 When we send out a press release, we hope to get a response from the media. We often field phone calls and emails asking us to elaborate or give an original quote. It’s not often we’re attacked by members of the media for sending what we send or saying what we say. We sent out […]

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When we send out a press release, we hope to get a response from the media. We often field phone calls and emails asking us to elaborate or give an original quote. It’s not often we’re attacked by members of the media for sending what we send or saying what we say.

We sent out a release yesterday titled “MIGOP Chair Hopeful Uses Racist and Offensive Language to Describe Asian American Michiganders” where we called out MIGOP chair candidate Norm Hughes’ use of the word “Oriental” on his website to describe Asian Americans.

Jerry Pond, pressroom manager for the Cheboygan Daily Tribune, did not like our release and sent us an email in response to the press release.

“We believe that the PC crowd is going way too far in sending out notices such as these..pray tell who is the person in charge of telling us all who and what people need to be called? Certainly not a PAC like yourselves,” Pond wrote on Thursday afternoon just before close of business.

Turns out we agree with Pond. It shouldn’t be our job to call people out for these types of actions. In fact, most everything we do at Progress Michigan is to try and create a society where there is no need to call people out for this type of bigotry. Sadly, that world doesn’t exist. Still Pond is right, it shouldn’t be our job to do that, it should be HIS as a member of the media.

We were responding to what we felt was an offensive post. More offensive now is the newspaper defending it. Would the Cheboygan Daily Tribune run a story using the word “Oriental” to describe Asian Americans? The fact that we received an email like this from a publication that is supposed to report news in an unbiased fashion to the community just proves the need for watchdog organizations like ours.

But again, Jerry shouldn’t have to take our word for it. A 2009 copy of the AP Stylebook (a guide that helps journalists know how and when to use certain words and grammar rules), spells it out pretty plainly:

Orient, Oriental: Do not use when referring to East Asian nations and their peoples. Asian is the acceptable term for an inhabitant of those regions. Oriental rug is standard

Pond is right. It shouldn’t be Progress Michigan’s job to call out political leaders for this type of behavior, but it is one we will continue to do, because it is necessary. 

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MIGOP Chair Hopeful Uses Racist and Offensive Language to Describe Asian American Michiganders http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/migop-chair-hopeful-uses-racist-offensive-language-describe-asian-american-michiganders/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/migop-chair-hopeful-uses-racist-offensive-language-describe-asian-american-michiganders/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 20:46:21 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37977 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan February 19, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org MIGOP Chair Hopeful Uses Racist and Offensive Language to Describe Asian American Michiganders Republicans have a problem with cultural insensitivity from sitting, prospective leaders  LANSING — The Michigan GOP has a long, problematic history of its leaders using racial and derogatory terms […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News from Progress Michigan

February 19, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org

MIGOP Chair Hopeful Uses Racist and Offensive Language to Describe Asian American Michiganders

Republicans have a problem with cultural insensitivity from sitting, prospective leaders 

LANSING — The Michigan GOP has a long, problematic history of its leaders using racial and derogatory terms for minority groups, the latest example coming from Michigan Republican Party chair hopeful Norm Hughes.

On his website, Hughes refers to Asian Americans as “Orientals” — an outdated term that is best used to classify rugs, not people, and harkens back to an age when the U.S. government passed exclusionary laws to bar Asians from entering the country.

“The GOP cannot concede 94% of the black vote, 71% of the Hispanic vote, 60% of females, youth and Jewish vote. Republicans get less than 15% of the Muslim vote and a fraction of the growing Oriental vote,” Hughes wrote on his website.

Hughes’ statement is one of many examples of Michigan Republicans using offensive rhetoric and imagery. The comment comes on the heels of numerous inflammatory statements made by MIGOP National Committeeman Dave Agema, who referred to Muslims as “camel jockeys” and has a long history of racist and insensitive comments against the LGBT community and other minority groups. During the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Republican nominee Pete Hoekstra came under fire for a racist television ad that featured offensive stereotypes about Asians.

“The Michigan GOP has a systemic problem within their ranks in how they treat and view communities of color,”said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “This just goes to show how truly out of touch they are and that they don’t care about minorities as people — they only care about them as votes. It seems as though the Michigan GOP is left with a choice between the failed economic priorities of Mitt Romney and the truly racist who have not come to grips with the reality that is modern day Michigan.”

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Snyder Lied About Balanced Budget on Campaign Trail, MEDC Needs Transparency http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/snyder-lied-balanced-budget-campaign-trail-medc-needs-transparency/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/snyder-lied-balanced-budget-campaign-trail-medc-needs-transparency/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 20:25:12 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37971 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan February 18, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Snyder Lied About Balanced Budget on Campaign Trail, MEDC Needs Transparency Testimony from Treasury official states administration knew about budget shortfall in October MICHIGAN — News broke today that the Snyder administration knew about the state’s massive budget shortfall last October while […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan

February 18, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org

Snyder Lied About Balanced Budget on Campaign Trail, MEDC Needs Transparency

Testimony from Treasury official states administration knew about budget shortfall in October

MICHIGAN — News broke today that the Snyder administration knew about the state’s massive budget shortfall last October while Gov. Rick Snyder campaigned on the premise that he had consistently balanced the budget.

During testimony to the Michigan House regarding the state’s massive deficit in the upcoming budget, MIRS News reported that an official with the Department of Treasury said the administration “became aware of the situation last fall.”

“The testimony today proves that Gov. Snyder purposefully deceived voters throughout the latter part of his reelection campaign,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Snyder ran on his accounting and budgeting experience, but now we know he was actively trying to hide a half a billion dollar budget shortfall from voters. The numbers don’t lie — but Gov. Snyder sure did.”

Through that same testimony, lawmakers were told that the state’s tax liability through Michigan Economic Development Corporation MEGA tax credits is $9.38 billion, according to MIRS News, which is almost the entirety of the state’s General Fund Budget during the fiscal year. The state is on the hook for the tax credits through 2031 at varying levels, topping off at $607 million by 2029 and declining after.

In light of the news, Progress Michigan is calling for complete disclosure and transparency at the MEDC. The MEDC faces pressure and influence from lobbying activity, which doesn’t have to be disclosed.

“With the MEDC doling out budget-busting tax credits and Gov. Snyder being aware of the situation, but not disclosing it to voters, it’s time for some much-needed transparency across the board,” Scott continued. “Giving huge tax credits to corporations without any accountability to the public is clearly a problem — and Gov. Snyder knew it. It’s time we opened up the books, disclosed lobbying and allowed the public and the media to dig into the actions of the MEDC.”

Progress Michigan will be sending a FOIA to the MEDC later this week asking for all documentation and communications regarding the MEGA tax credit program and lobbying activities that occur at the department.

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Rick Snyder: CEO First, Governor Second http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/rick-snyder-ceo-first-governor-second/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/rick-snyder-ceo-first-governor-second/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 19:00:29 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37956 Remember when I blogged about how great it would be if leaders in Lansing created a budget that bettered the lives of all Michigan residents? Well, that’s not what Governor Snyder did when he presented his 2016 budget on Wednesday. Just as he did during his last term, the governor has plans to slash programs […]

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Remember when I blogged about how great it would be if leaders in Lansing created a budget that bettered the lives of all Michigan residents? Well, that’s not what Governor Snyder did when he presented his 2016 budget on Wednesday.

Just as he did during his last term, the governor has plans to slash programs that benefit regular people like you and me, because he doesn’t think it’s important that everyone has the chance to lead a good quality of life, especially not when it might mean making big businesses and the wealthiest pay their fair share.

Our governor’s biggest problem is that he fails to look at the big picture. He views himself as a CEO, Michigan as a business, and residents as customers. And what do CEOs do best? They look for ways to reap short-term profits, often (deliberately) failing to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions on anyone other than their wealthy stakeholders.

That has been our governor’s legacy. In 2011, he gave corporations a $1.8 billion tax cut that was paid for by slashing funding for education, public services, and local communities, all to appease the so-called “job creators” that have yet to create substantial jobs. Colleges and universities have been forced to raise their tuitions, making it harder for students to afford to go to college. Communities struggle to maintain public libraries and have had to cut police and fire protection. Schools have had to lay off guidance counselors and eliminate music and arts programs.

As Snyder’s big business bankrollers keep cashing in, we keep getting screwed. In January, state officials announced that big business cashing in tax credits has created a huge hole in the state budget. According to Governor Snyder, this is “a good problem to have.”

I don’t know anyone who thinks that it’s good that the governor created this problem or that his solution is more and more cuts – to state police, a disaster assistance program, our Department of Community Health, the two departments responsible for keeping our air and water clean, and more.

This proposed “solution” isn’t good for anyone except big businesses. But, that doesn’t matter to Snyder because, to him, we aren’t his constituents, we’re customers; Michigan isn’t a place where we live, work, and together call home, it’s a business; and he’s not a public servant, elected to office to do what’s best for everyone in our state, he’s a CEO, here to do whatever it takes to rake in profits for his wealthiest and well-connected contributors. Let’s hope our legislators don’t share the same perspective.

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Higher Education, Higher Costs http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/higher-education-higher-costs/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/02/higher-education-higher-costs/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:53:15 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37952 By Brad O’Neil Although Governor Snyder’s new budget proposal includes an increase in funding for higher education, the proposed increases are still nowhere near where they need to be. In fact, even with the increase the higher education budget is still $34 million below its 2011 levels. Not only has decreased funding made it harder […]

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By Brad O’Neil

Although Governor Snyder’s new budget proposal includes an increase in funding for higher education, the proposed increases are still nowhere near where they need to be. In fact, even with the increase the higher education budget is still $34 million below its 2011 levels.

Not only has decreased funding made it harder for colleges and universities to operate, it’s made it harder for students to attend. According to the Michigan State University Office of Admissions, tuition and fees for in-state freshman this academic year are estimated to be $13,246. And that’s not including room and board or books. Such high costs are not just a problem in Michigan; they’re a problem nationwide.

According to a new study released this week by the University of Pennsylvania and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, the gap between high-income and low-income youths who earn a bachelors degree by the age of 24 has doubled in the last 40 years.

It also found that while there has been an increase in college enrolment across all income levels, completion gaps have grown with 99 percent of students from the highest-income families graduating by the age of 24 compared to only 21 percent of students from the lowest-income families doing the same. Additionally, financial assistance for low-income students, such as Pell grants, has not kept up with rising tuition costs. In 1975, for example, Pell grants covered 67 percent of tuition costs; in 2012, they only covered 27 percent.

If these facts seem startling, it’s because they are. Higher education is key to both individual success and our future as a society and if we don’t make investment in it a priority then we are only stifling our own progress.

President Obama’s recent proposal to offer free community college to any student who wishes to attend is one response to this growing crisis. While two free years of community college is not a cure-all, it demonstrates recognition of the very real and fundamental problem of college accessibility in this state and country. I wish I could say the same for Michigan’s higher education budget.

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