Senator Gleason’s statement is as follows:
I concur with the previous speaker about these drastic cuts. There are two particular concerns I have with this budget. The first is the slashing of our state libraries. We just went through Reading Month here in the state of Michigan. We all celebrated it. Many of us went around to our local school districts and read to the kids emphasizing the great need to read and have the books accessible.
Schools are only open, typically, about 180-some days a year, but the libraries are open most of the time. I always try to encourage the young folks in my district that the most important time to read is during the summer when they don’t have a more scheduled regiment for learning, reading, and increasing their vocabulary; that they have access to their local library.
In the last few months we’ve encouraged our residents, particularly those who were laid off, to go get online; to have access to the unemployment services of this state at their local libraries. It’s just one other way they can get their unemployment compensation and keep their families intact and their budget somewhat in order.
Another disturbing aspect of this budget is the book distribution centers. I think there would be few programs in the state that have met with such success. We have organizations in the Upper Penninsula and down here below which offer thousands of books—thousands of books—to our young readers across this state. Maybe not enough of us know about this book distribution center which we utilize annually. We’re talking about spending less than $350,000 on a program that offers millions and millions in dollars in resources to our young readers across this state.
So that is my “no” vote explanation, and I hope that we put a premium on year-round education at our local libraries and to reward those who have offered many resources such as the book distribution centers in both the Upper Peninsula and down here below.
Senator Switalski’s statement, in which Senator Jacobs concurred, is as follows:
I appreciate the fiscally responsible approach that members have taken in adding the substitute that cuts the budget by 10 percent, but I think when we are cutting, we should use the scalpel rather than the meat cleaver. If we cut everything by 10 percent, on me, that is my head. Some of you might favor that approach with me, but I would rather take my left hand, as painful as that would be. To take my head would kill me. The same way if you have a rose bush and cut off all of the flowers, you would kill the bush. But if you choose a few well-placed stems and take those out, the whole bush can recover and survive.
So I think that when we are looking at libraries and the important work that they do, we risk losing that institution, rather than going in and restructuring and rethinking. Let’s adjust the entire budget, rather than across-the-board 10 percent cuts.
Senator Clark-Coleman’s statement is as follows:
I rise today to issue my “no” vote explanation primarily because of the elimination of the book distribution program and the reduction of library funding. What they did with the library funding was rob Peter to pay Paul. They took away $1.5 million from the library funding and gave it to the arts. We know that the arts need more money, but it is important that libraries are fully funded so they fulfill the promise of their creation.
A society with limited access to books is a damaged society. From the earliest bedtime stories to the access of computers; from story hours to study material; from picture books to practical guides; from daily newspapers to research projects—the doors of the future are open to those who can read. The main entry to that future is through the doors of our public libraries. In this time of economic woes, let’s not cut a resource that is so vital to citizens, such as income tax preparation and job resume and application preparation for laid-off workers.
Some neighborhoods, families, and children will be forced to forego library use because of limited operation hours and resources. For many, this is the only access to Internet or training programs or the only chance that a child may have to meet his favorite author. We cannot afford to constrict one of our greatest resources when we need it the most at this time of economic struggles.