Budget Woes

By: Jessica Aspiras Email
By: Jessica Aspiras Email

"School districts throughout the state and higher education are operating with great, great uncertainty," says David Hecker with the American Federation of Teachers Michigan.

Adds Vernice Anthony with the Greater Detroit Area Health Council, "What is missing is the fact that we have not gone forward on the issues of the uninsured."

"We're going to be concerned whether water quality and air quality are properly protected," expresses Anne Woiwode of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.

These are the frustations of educators, healthcare workers, and environmentalists gathered at the first annual Michigan Policy Summit.
Frustrations that have come about, because the state has yet to balance the 2008 budget, and it's been working on it since Spring. For school districts around the state, their fiscal year started July 1st -- two months later they're still in limbo.

"If I need new textbooks for a school district, and I don't know what money is coming from the state, well am I going to hold off on that order until I know? Probably," Hecker says.

The state has three weeks left until the budget's deadline, and those in healthcare have been anxiously waiting.

Says Anthony, "The governor has presented a proposal where we could cover another additional 500,000 people in our state without additional taxes."

But the possibility of that insurance coverage has been put on hold while the legislature continues to bicker over balancing the budget. And environmentalists, their concern is the consequences due to the lack of adequate protection -- often times provided through the help of state funds.

"If there's more air pollution, we know that asthma goes up in children dramatically," explains Woiwode. "If there's contaminated water, because we're not able to enforce laws on water quality people get sick."

Saturday's summit was held to try and find ways to move Michigan forward as a whole but until the budget actually passes, it may just be at a standstill.

If the budget isn't balanced by October 1st, the state could shutdown.

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