Lansing –Senate Democrats' staunch opposition to education cuts was again overridden by the Senate Republicans today as they passed House Bill 5372, the omnibus budget bill for School Aid, Higher Education and Community Colleges. The bill was the final piece to the 2013 Budget plan that completes legislative Republicans' worst two-year budget cycle in recent history, cutting schools as much as $470 per pupil, stealing nearly $2 billion from the School Aid Fund, and reducing higher education funding by upwards of 15%.
Senate Democrats sharply criticized the general omnibus budget passed by Republicans today for continuing their misplaced priorities that favor politics over progress for the people of Michigan.
Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer announced the panel of judges today that will help select the winner of the #mi2020 Scholarship Competition. Students were asked to submit a short web video for the competition that explains the importance of investing in higher education and how the Michigan 2020 Plan to offer free college tuition to all students is the right investment for our state to make. Fifty-five students qualified for the semi-final round of the competition, with the top ten vote-getters moving on to the finals currently taking place.
Senate Democrats were quick to point out that a Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System reform pushed through by Senate Republicans today will actually cost Michigan money. The GOP plan to move all new school hires to a 401k plan will cost the state billions of dollars in retirement costs to pay for school employees who remain under the old system. The state Office of Retirement Systems estimates that the plan as passed today could cost the state an additional $2-3 billion over the next two decades. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency also estimates the new system will add additional costs approaching $300 million annually.
Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer pointed to testimony given at the state's Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference today as further evidence that Governor Snyder's policies are failing to turn Michigan's economy around. University of Michigan economist George Fulton told the conference that Michigan's decreasing unemployment numbers were mostly due to people giving up on looking for work. The testimony directly conflicts with the Governor's rhetoric that his corporate tax cuts are creating jobs.
Lansing – Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer announced today that the final round of the #mi2020 Scholarship Competition has begun as the ten finalists compete to win the $10,000 grand prize. The ten students qualified for the finals by receiving the highest number of votes during the semi-final round of the competition during which more than 40,000 votes were cast by people all across Michigan.
Lansing – Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer spoke on the Senate floor today to denounce Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney after media reports detailed stories in which Romney bullied and attacked a fellow classmate while a student at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills.
Lansing – In response to Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney's visit to Michigan today, Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer issued the following response:
Lansing – Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer attended the Business Leaders for Michigan Leadership Summit in Lansing today to promote the Michigan 2020 Plan that would offer free college tuition to all Michigan high school graduates. The topic of today's summit was “Growing a Higher Education Marketplace,” touching on a recurring theme of many business experts and economists that say a well-educated workforce links directly to economic prosperity.
Lansing – Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer was joined today by economist Lou Glazer, Kalamazoo Promise Executive Administrator Bob Jorth and several parents and high school and college students to testify before the Senate Finance Committee in support of the Michigan 2020 Plan to offer free college tuition to all Michigan high school graduates. No opposition to the bills was presented, and Michigan families anxiously await the committee's vote on the legislation.