Small problems get big with misplaced priorities

Added September 23rd, 2014 by Judy Putnam | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Judy Putnam

In kindergarten classrooms in one Michigan school district, work tables are now cleaned only weekly instead of daily due to severe budget cuts that have reduced cleaning staff and supplies. Teachers must buy their own cleaners and wash the tables to maintain sanitary conditions for the youngest students

The dirty tables was one of the anecdotes offered about Michigan’s misguided spending priorities during a news conference held at the Capitol this morning by Priorities Michigan.

The League's Shannon Nobles talks about cuts that hurt families

While that may seem small, messy kids are prone to spread germs, leading to illnesses, time off from school and workdays lost by mom and dad. It’s emblematic of the penny-wise and pound-foolish attitude in Michigan.

“Over a decade of disinvestment and budget cuts made by legislators are clearly hurting Michiganders, from increased class sizes in schools making it harder for kids to learn to crumbling roads and bridges that are dangerous to drive on,” said Nathan Triplett, project director of Priorities Michigan. “As elected leaders start planning for the 2016 fiscal year budget, they must prioritize investing in infrastructure, schools, and programs that best serve all people in our communities.”

Other problems highlighted were the hidden and cracked infrastructure of the state. Much of it dates back to the post-Civil War era and is in serious need of repair to keep drinking water clean, toilets flushable and residential areas free of flooding from water runoff.

And cuts to food assistance mean families will have to choose between food and other basic needs. Nearly half of those who receive food assistance are kids.

My colleague Shannon Nobles, an outreach specialist, spoke about pending food assistance cuts and low provider payments for childcare at a time when Michigan’s unemployment rate remains among the highest in the country.

“In these tough times, our elected leaders should be taking down barriers to success, not putting up obstacles for those who are struggling,’’ she told the small crowd of supporters and reporters. “Everyone deserves an opportunity at a decent life, even if they need some help along the way.”

A few of the reporters asked what should be cut to pay for the things we need in Michigan. Triplett reminded them that in 2011, Michigan lawmakers cut $1.8 billion from business taxes — money that could have been used to pay for needed repairs and small class sizes.

“That’s not a question of additional resources, that’s a question of misplaced priorities,’’ he said.

— Judy Putnam

2 Responses to “Small problems get big with misplaced priorities”

  1. […] we live in. One of Priorities Michigan partners, the Michigan League for Public Policy wrote a piece about a recent press event that focused on the real life impacts of the state’s misplaced […]

  2. […] we live in. One of Priorities Michigan partners, the Michigan League for Public Policy wrote a piece about a recent press event that focused on the real life impacts of the state’s misplaced […]

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