Gov. Promises More Budget Cuts


Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants to sell $2 billion in state bonds over the next decade to invest in high-tech industries as part of her plan for strengthening and diversifying Michigan's economy. She outlined the seven points of her plan, one of which is education, in her State of the State address Tuesday night. But with a projected $1 billion shortfall looming in 2005, the governor also promised more cuts in the executive budget she will unveil later this month.


On the subject of higher education, Granholm said states with the highest number of adults with college degrees have the lowest unemployment, the highest personal income growth, and the fastest-growing economies.


"More than any other factor, this one a highly educated population drives a state's economy," she said. "That is why we must do all we can to make college more affordable for those who choose it. When I issued the executive order balancing this year's budget, I asked our universities and community colleges to tighten their belts and hold the line against tuition increases. Tonight, I reiterate this challenge. I am pleased to announce that Wayne State University is the first to agree not to raise tuition beyond the rate of inflation. I challenge others to follow their lead."


Granholm thanked the Cherry Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth for providing a road map for achieving the goal of doubling the number of college graduates in Michigan. One of the commission's recommendations is to expect all state high school students to earn a college degree or its equivalent by continuing their education for at least two years beyond high school.

The governor announced proposed changes in the MERIT scholarship that would replace the $2,500 students receive for doing well on MEAP tests.


"With this new MERIT scholarship, we are extending that promise into the college years," Granholm said. "Beginning with the class of 2007 today's high school sophomores Michigan will ensure $4,000 for every student who completes two years of college, whether they earn an associate degree from a community college, achieve junior status at a four-year institution, or complete a technical program off-campus.


"For students who want to enter the work force with an associate degree, the new MERIT scholarship means the state will essentially pick up the tab for tuition. And those going on to four-year degrees can use their new MERIT scholarship for their next year's tuition. Either way, Michigan will be the first state in the nation to reward our students for completing two years of college. The days when we define merit as success in high school are over. Michigan will now define merit the way the economy does by rewarding those who earn college degrees."


Granholm also said she has met hundreds of victims of downsizing, outsourcing or "some other flowery word for being laid off" who would gladly juggle work and family to go back to school, but are deterred by the fact their college credits have expired.

"This year, we will ask Michigan 's colleges and universities to create a credit amnesty -- accepting the old credits of those adults who reenroll within the next three years to finish their degrees," she said. "This amnesty will create a window to go back to school to finish up the degree they started years ago."

Granholm will take part in a series of community and campus activities during a visit to Marquette scheduled Feb. 17-18.



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Updated: October 26, 2005

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