Friday, October 9, 2009

MEA President Comments on K-12 Budget Resolution

“Thousands of school employees, parents, business leaders and voters made their voices heard during the past few weeks in an effort to stop massive K-12 budget cuts from becoming reality.

“While tonight’s cut of $165 per pupil is less than what had been previously turned down by legislators, this cut is still a deep one that will adversely impact the education of Michigan’s children. Reducing the per pupil cut is certainly a win for students. But the lack of a full investment in public schools is disturbing, especially since the vast majority of our legislators ran for office touting the importance of education to our economic recovery.

“MEA is proud of our members and all other Michigan citizens who exercised their right to speak up for our state’s children. But tonight’s decision underlines that while their efforts kept the absolute worst from coming to pass, their voices can’t go silent now.

“The lesson of the past two weeks is that we have a chronic budget problem -- and cuts aren’t making it go away. After a decade of budget shortfalls and cuts, more shortfalls and more cuts, we still lack the necessary resources to invest in our state and our future. Next year, we face the potential of an even bigger hole in the budget -- one that cannot be filled with cuts alone.

“Our leaders in Lansing have less than a year to address our antiquated tax structure and build a new one that helps Michigan face the challenges of a 21st century economy. The simple fact is that we need tax reform that leads to stable, predictable and sufficient revenue to pay for the services we all want -- sturdy roads and bridges, police and fire protection, clean air and water, health care and especially, world class public schools for our students.

“We have to take a hard look at how we’re investing our state’s money. Can we afford to spend money on tax incentives that don’t bring long-term economic growth to Michigan? Can we afford tax-free luxury items or tax loopholes that don’t serve the common good? Can we afford the massive tax breaks that many claimed would bring economic prosperity -- prosperity that obviously hasn’t reached the homes of millions of Michigan citizens?

“It’s time to invest in our state. It’s time to invest in our schools. MEA is proud to have been part of leading that charge during this budget debate and we’re proud to commit today to continuing that fight because of our solemn belief that the key to our economic future is preparing our students for the jobs Michigan needs.”