to Move Quickly on Executive Order
stop on her statewide tour addressing the budget crisis, Gov. Jennifer
Granholm stressed two words of advice for entities that rely on
state funding: “Cut now! Cut now!” She told a studio audience at
Public TV-13 last week that everything is going to be impacted;
it’s just a matter of how much.
is pictured with NMU pre-law students from the political science
department, who fielded call-in questions during the broadcast.
have to move quickly to negotiate an executive order with the legislature,”
Granholm said. “The cuts have to come right away, which means there
has to be an agreement before the holiday break …. My inclination
is to preserve the safety net programs for the disadvantaged and
eliminate scholarships that are not based on need, even though I
fully recognize that universities are the economic engines of the
the forum was televised, Granholm showed a series of slides to members
of the studio audience. She asked them to use instant polling devices
to vote for which areas they would cut first at various spending
thresholds. In the $30 million to $70 million category, 76 percent
of the audience targeted private college scholarships, for a savings
of $65 million.
the over-$100 million category, 62 percent favored eliminating the
Merit/MEAP scholarships, worth about $130 million; 19 percent of
the audience favored a sample across-the-board cut of 6.5 percent
in public university funding, which would save $114 million; 14
percent indicated they would reduce local revenue sharing; and only
5 percent voted to touch Medicare.
am struck by the number willing to cut scholarships to private schools,”
Granholm said. “In most of these forums, it seems to be a case of
revenue sharing pitted against Merit scholarships. When forced to
make difficult choices, people tend to say, ‘let’s cut the things
that are least based on need.’ The scholarships are a valuable tool
to make college for the middle class more affordable, but even high
school students seem to recognize that the state is not in a position
to fully fund such programs.”
response to an e-mail about the legality of diverting tobacco settlement
money away from the Merit scholarships, Granholm said the funds
could be applied to budget relief through a legislative decision
because they are not constitutionally protected.
told the studio and viewing audiences that public university funding
accounts for 25 percent of the state’s general fund budget – second
only to health care at 29 percent. In a post-forum news conference,
she praised Helping Higher Education, a student-led initiative designed
to preserve the resources needed to maintain
quality institutions for higher education. HELP recently exceeded
its letter-writing campaign goal of 2,000 to state lawmakers.
a tremendous effort and the students are to be applauded for seizing
the moment and trying to make change occur,” Granholm said. “Now
whether it will result in the impact they want – no cuts to higher
education – probably not.”
following NMU representatives were among the 50 U.P. residents invited
to sit in the studio audience: President Mike Roy, Patricia
“Pish” Cianciolo (Sociology/Social Work), ASNMU President
Kyle Ortiz, student Julee Basal and Board
of Trustees Vice-Chair Karl
Weber. Sonya Chrisman
served as moderator.