Michiganonians, your help is needed!!!!

If you live in Michigan, read this:

The state has withheld its October payment from the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and MSU Extension.

Armstrong, the dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, sees it as a sign that Gov. Jennifer Granholm might veto the programs’ $64 million in funding altogether.

“We called (the state) to ask questions, and we’re just not getting any clear answers,” he said.

He has a word for what it would mean: “Devastation, devastation.”

Then do this:

Contact your Michigan State Senator

Contact your Michigan House Rep

Do additional griping here.

Comments

  1. #1 DuWayne
    October 27, 2009

    This is not to say that I am unconcerned, but quite honestly, I am far more concerned about health and mental health services, as well as primary education at the moment. There are a whole hell of a lot of other drops in an increasingly underfilled bucket that I see as a priority.

    Such as the fact that we are releasing a great many prisoners not because they earned early release, but because we can’t afford to keep up their prisons. Meanwhile, we are eviscerating the county budgets for community mental health. This is not a pretty combination.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    October 27, 2009

    The thing is, it is false economies. Extension services are like oil changes. You can save money but skipping them but in the long run …

  3. #3 Toaster
    October 27, 2009

    Granholm’s in a very tough place right now. She’s beset by budget woes and a thoroughly DeVos-ified state legislature while unemployment continues to rise and revenues continue to fall and a mostly conservative social agenda (banning affirmative action, amending the state constitution to make same-sex marriage illegal, although strangely stem cell research is now protexted). Due to state legislative budget cuts for education, tuition prices rose at my undergrad all out of accordance to the rates of inflation. Maybe we could just sell the UP to Wisconsin? We’ve already extracted all its copper anyway.

  4. #4 M. Bethel
    October 27, 2009

    Let’s lay this out; it’s really very simple. Agriculture is our number one industry in the state. We only have one University with an Agriculture college … and it is the research and development arm for agriculture in Michigan. Extension and the Experiment Station serve as that vehicle with the university. Wipe them out, and you wipe out the college. Now, we all enjoy and need to eat, and a safe food supply is preferable to being dependent on foreign countries for our food. It seems to me growing food and fiber are industries we want to retain. Why would we want to reduce the state funding to zero, send the federal partners money back to Washington, and tell counties no longer to put in their match? Headline —State Saves 64 Million, Loses $1.062 billion in Economic Impact. That’s what these two organizations are responsible for in grants, research, job production, etc. Doesn’t sound like a very sound decision to me.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    October 27, 2009

    Bethel: Do you have a lot of Republicans or something there?

  6. #6 M. Bethel
    October 27, 2009

    Not sure where “there” is. I am a moderate. Have voted for as many democrats as republicans in my lifetime. I do know that eating is a bi-partisan event.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    October 27, 2009

    I’m thinking that this sending the federal money back thing is a republican gambit to get the ignoramus vote.

  8. #8 M. Bethel
    October 27, 2009

    My comments are more based on the historical partnership that is the basis for Extension. Each the County, State and Feds put up about 1/3 of the funding, in addition to all the grants and research dollars that are brought in by the staff. That all goes down the drain when the State pulls out of the partnership.

    Michigan was the first or “Pioneer” Land Grant University in the country. Looks like we could also be the first to opt out as well. Sad!

  9. #9 Umlud
    October 27, 2009

    I would have thought that many farming Michiganders would be up in arms about this, and (at least according to the stereotype I hear in Ann Arbor) many of them are Republicans. Of course, the state has also gone through more than a decade of budget cuts, and having a term-limited legislature doesn’t really help with long-term planning (imho on this last item).

  10. #10 DuWayne
    October 27, 2009

    Greg –

    I understand the problem, but I think you are failing to understand the greater problem we have here. We have a republican senate that is hell bent on not allowing any more tax increases. With a modest tax increase, we could at least put a bandaid on essential services and probably manage to cover a portion of these essentials for the universities. But even with that, we simply don’t have the money.

    We have gone through several short term shut downs of the government over the last five years. And there is only so far we can go with tax increases. Even if we take money to the point that it seriously starts to hurt people, we are still not making what we need.

    I am really hoping that we can manage to cover this, I really am. But having gone to a few meetings and listened to my dad talking about the meetings he has attended, I am also concerned about a lot of other essentials that are going without too. We are looking at a huge slash in the funding per student, with municipal school districts already looking to end up in the red under the unslashed budget. And unless drastic steps are taking, our county community mental health services are going to be failing to provide care for the people they were developed to provide care for in the first place. Community health clinics are also facing dramatic and painful cuts – some of which probably falls under the extension services.

    All of our essential services are being eviscerated, at a time when there is a consistent rise in demand. I know that we can’t afford to lose the extension services, but we may not be able to afford to keep them. Unfortunately, unless we can get the fucking moronic republicans to play ball and agree to tax increases, it just isn’t going to happen. Even if we can get the tax increase, I doubt full funding is possible.

    I am not trying to downplay the drastic loss that this would cause. I am just trying to make you understand that the state of Michigan is completely and utterly fucked.

    (btw, the accepted reference for we who live in MI is “Michiganders.” I personally find it distasteful and like others who feel this way say “Michiganians.”)

  11. #11 Tom
    October 27, 2009

    Below is the text of the note I just sent to Senator Brater: or at least, to the staff member responsible for reading e-mails.

    Dear Senator Brater,

    I believe that if the rules forbidding financial instruments like a statewide public derivative were changed and relaxed,The State of Michigan would begin to take an entirely different path than it is currently on.

    In the proposed scenario cooperating Michigan cities would theoretically partially pool a percentage of their diverse Green Technology backed municipal funds.

    A closed and cyclic cash stream, effectively bridging the state treasury to the securities of such a Public Pool Fund, will give Michigan what these sorts of instruments have always given: a steady return on the initial investment.

    Just a Thought from,
    Tom

    Although I am not an economist and there may be many little “devils” in the details of such a plan,the overall logic of this “kind” of idea is precisely what this state needs.

    If the Federal Government actually were able to change the rules so such a thing, with the proper oversight from the Inspector General and or the SEC, could happen, then wouldn’t that be something?

    Just a little Thought from
    Tom

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    October 27, 2009

    DuWayne, don’t worry, I get it. Remember, I live in a neighboring state! We have a similar set of problems here, but we just now got rid of the Republican legislature, and we are not as hit hard by the industry collapse, so we’re crashing at somewhat gentler and slower angle but with similar possibilities that can’t be realized because we have a line item veto that the governer uses to generate his own version of the state constitution.

  13. #13 fazizzle
    October 27, 2009

    Thank God for Republicans. Let’s get a Republican Governer who offers HUGE tax breaks to business if they relocate to Michigan. Then, when unemployment drops to 6% the state coffers will be teeming with personal income tax and sales tax receipts. I don’t hold the current mess against Granholm as she can’t squeeze any more blood out of this mitten shaped turnip. In fact, she proved my point by offering MONSTROUS tax incentives to the film industry. Ah yes, the system only works for your own constituent groups… Hollywood being one of hers. Guess what, Michigan has one thriving industry… Movies!

  14. #14 MadScientist
    October 28, 2009

    We don’t need no stinkin’ skools and science, gawd will look aftah uz.

    I don’t know the details though – what’s involved? I’ve had some incidental involvement in a number of HUGE projects (yes, much bigger than $64M) which tanked – and there were good reasons for cutting those projects. So before I become outraged at cutting research and school expansion, I’d like to know more about what’s really going on.

  15. #15 DuWayne
    October 28, 2009

    Umlud –

    I think you would be surprised about the reality of MI farmers, compared to the AA characterization of them. The truth is, while many of them vote republican on a regular basis, almost all of them are independent and most of them vote for people not parties. And I would venture to guess, having worked for a number of them, that there are just as many who vote democrat most of the time, as there are those who vote republican most of the time.

    Politics in MI is a truly bizarre phenom. I tend to assume that we have the split we do between the houses not because the republicans are really that well appreciated, but because people wanted an opposition government.

    To make it stranger, we have a very strange phenom, wherein the largest republican voting blocks are not rural, but clustered around the auto plants. Many years ago the auto companies made a huge sweep to try and convince poor rural southerners to come work in the autoindustry. They brought enough in that we actually had a mail sorting center that was only used for mail heading to six or seven counties in sounthern Kentucky and Tennessee.

    And while the northern lower peninsula is rather more conservative, it is also extremely sparsely populated. Take a gander at our congressional voting districts sometime to get an idea of how the population is disbursed. And the U.P. is anomalous, in that they are somewhat more liberal. It is a lot like visiting Canuckistan without leaving the U.S.

    All in all, MI is pretty staunchly moderate, with a major contrarian streak.

  16. #16 Susan Och
    October 28, 2009

    Another Michigander here, from the “little finger”, Leelanau County.

    I have been a 4-H leader and served on my local Extension Council for years. Most of the people in my community use Extension services in one form or another, everything from after-school care to soil testing to training programs for people who volunteer on zoning boards. Many times, because Extension does so much collaboration, people forget that the services they enjoy would not be possible without MSU Extension. As money for schools, the health department and social services have dried up, Extension has moved in to pick up the pieces, with new ideas like using 4-H livestock meat to augment local food banks and planting school gardens to stock the lunchrooms.

    I agree with DuWayne’s analysis of Michigan politics. The “taxes are always evil” contingent has been talking to themselves so long that they can’t hear anyone else. We have a term limit law that means that much of the legislature has no stake in the future consequences of their decision. We are at the point of showdown and MSU, the public school system, the Promise Scholarship and early childhood education are all serving as pawns in the game.

  17. #17 DuWayne
    October 29, 2009

    Oh hell Susan, I totally forgot to mention the moronic decision to defund fucking head start, possibly the best studied and most successful educational programs of all time.

    This would be a good moment for one of them primal scream type deals. I love this state I grew up in a great deal, I really do. But I am more than a little glad to be getting the hell out of here as soon as I can transfer schools. Portland just looks better and better.

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