Senators Anderson, Whitmer and Gleason, under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No. 949.
Senator Anderson’s statement, in which Senators Whitmer and Gleason concurred, is as follows:
I rise today to explain my “no” vote for the Community Colleges budget that was just passed. I hope that we can all agree that community colleges are integral to the success of transforming our state into a successful and fruitful player in the 21st century economy.
Unfortunately, as property tax revenues have declined and student populations have increased, our community colleges have been forced to do more with less. In fact, they were forced to do it with far less after the cuts they received in your budget passed last year. And this year, while you try to cover up the damage that you’ve already created by providing a minimal increase that doesn’t make up for last year, it is clear to see this budget is no welcome sight for our community colleges across the state.
You call it an increase in support, but how can you seriously expect anyone to swallow that when our community colleges are receiving drastically fewer dollars than they were two years ago? You’ll claim it offers a 3 percent increase in state support, but again, can you honestly call that progress when the rate of inflation is above that? You add unnecessary and unhelpful strings to those dollars; hoops these schools will have to jump through just to be able to make ends meet; hoops that you don’t require of the countless corporations this state gives billions of dollars in tax breaks to on an annual basis. Worst of all, while you continue to erode the support our state offers community colleges, you continue to take those dollars from those who need them most—Michigan’s children.
This budget continues a now two-year trend of robbing Peter’s lunch money to pay for Paul’s higher education. Senate Republicans are, yet again, raiding an already-stressed School Aid Fund to the tune of $294.1 million, which taxpayers agree should be used solely for paying K-12 education, to patch over a Community Colleges budget that should be paid for out of the General Fund.
After one of the largest cuts in history to K-12 funding last year, I find it particularly troubling to appropriate money that could be used to help stem the bleeding from other attacks on public education. It is not as if money does not exist in the General Fund to adequately provide for our community colleges. Senate Republicans were able to find enough General Fund dollars to support a $1.8 billion tax giveaway to their corporate allies last year, and continue to fund billions in tax subsidies on an annual basis.
I cannot support this budget because of the items I just mentioned. I will not support another budget that puts our children’s future in jeopardy by asking them to finance budget items that should be and could be paid for with dollars being handed out to corporations.
Senator Anderson asked and was granted unanimous consent to make statements and moved that the statements be printed in the Journal.
The motion prevailed.
Senator Anderson’s first statement is as follows:
I rise to offer an amendment that would restore funding for community colleges to their fiscal year 2011 funding level. It would return to funding these institutions out of the General Fund. We simply cannot expect our community colleges to provide the topnotch education we expect if we are not willing to provide the tools to do so. After last year’s significant cuts, it is insulting to call this a budget of progress when it doesn’t even allow our community colleges to keep up with the rate of inflation. We owe our students more.
Further, it is unacceptable to rob the School Aid Fund of much-needed dollars to the tune of $294 million to make up for the hole that you punched in the General Fund budget. Yes, that is exactly what this budget would do. After one of the largest education cuts we have seen, ever seen last year, to continue robbing our children of a proper education is deplorable. Even in the School Aid budget more cuts are coming despite having a surplus as a result of raiding that fund.
I ask for your support in placing the proper value on the important role our community colleges play and funding these institutions out of the General Fund.
Senator Anderson’s second statement is as follows:
My second amendment will focus solely on the issue of raiding the School Aid Fund for this budget and would restore this funding from the General Fund. If my colleagues cannot support adequate funding for our community colleges, my hope is that they can at least agree that it is unacceptable to divert funding away from our K-12 system.
Last year saw one of the most dramatic cuts to education in our state’s history. The result has been increased class sizes, schools on the brink of financial ruin, and teachers being forced to purchase school supplies out of pocket. On top of that, your budget handed out a $1.8 billion business tax cut and now continues to fund billions annually in business tax credits, all out of the General Fund. It’s curious to think that prior to your actions, we were able to pay for our community colleges system. How were we supposed to do this out of the General Fund? Suddenly, we are told we have to siphon money away from our K-12 schools in order to make ends meet.
It doesn’t take a team of economists to realize that if the General Fund wasn’t strained so significantly in order to fund those corporate handouts, we could provide adequate funding for our community colleges without dipping into money for our schools. I think it is time the majority readjust their priorities and fund community colleges out of the General Fund instead of robbing our children of the educational opportunities they deserve.