Wise decisions on how to spend Michigan's surplus need to come from the Capitol. (Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)
It is time to have a real discussion about what the citizens of the state value. Education is at the top of that list and should drive the decisions as Michigan’s next budget is created.
Experts agree that education is an investment that leads to a stronger workforce and therefore a more stable economy. Unfortunately, in the face of lower state revenues our elected leaders opted to slash funding for education.
Michigan is approaching a budget cycle with projections of nearly $1 billion in unexpected revenue to the state. The discussion has already started about what to do with that money. Right now, some legislators seem fixated on more tax breaks.
It has been said: “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget and I will tell you what you value.”
In Michigan, our budget would show that tax cuts for businesses are a higher priority than our kids’ education.
The Michigan League for Public Policy recently released a report, “The Path to Prosperity: Ten Steps Michigan Must Take to Strengthen its Economy.”
The first three steps revolve around education. Specifically the report suggests that Michigan must increase investments in early childhood education and care — beginning prenatally through school entry; ensure that all children have access to a high-quality public education and receive a high school diploma; make higher education an affordable option for more residents.
We can accomplish these goals if the Legislature decides to invest more in our kids’ education. We must increase our investment in the education of our young people.
Our leaders in Lansing must make a choice: push forward more tax cuts to gain political favor as we enter into another election year or invest in the education of our children and get a true return on investment.
So far, our leaders have shown that their priority lies with enriching the wealthy.
We hope that they will change course and take this opportunity to show that they do truly care about preparing our children for a brighter tomorrow.
David Hecker is the president of the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan and Gilda Jacobs is the president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.