Groups representing Michigan educators, doctors, cities, students and others warned Monday that a tax increase is needed or else budget cuts to essential services will endanger citizens.
"We have to have some revenue," said Don Gilmer, Kalamazoo County's administrator and a former state budget director under Gov. John Engler.
Gilmer spoke at a Capitol news conference held by a consortium of universities, health associations and cities that calls itself the Michigan Fiscal Responsibility Project. The groups have seen reductions in state funding in recent years and could face additional cuts because state government is facing an $800 million deficit in this year's budget.
Dan Nowiski, a senior at Central Michigan University, said less state funding for universities is hurting higher education in Michigan.
"It means more student debt. It means a bigger financial burden on parents. It means students are dropping out of college," he said. "That's not something I want."
Unless Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Legislature act by June 1, K-12 public schools stand to lose $116 per student, and doctors and hospitals will get less for treating low-income patients on Medicaid.
Granholm and Democrats say a tax hike is needed along with spending cuts and government reforms. Republicans are against higher taxes.