Neither placing blame or ignoring the root causes of the current state budget crisis gets us closer to solutions. Michigan must come to grips with the reality of our condition and get on with establishing a new level of economic equilibrium.
I decided to get a closer look at what was happening in our state’s capital and attended the Michigan State Board of Education meeting held on October 26th. The state’s board, unlike local boards, has no authority over K-12 budgets, but they rightly see that the governor’s and legislature’s budget decisions impact the service for which they are responsible, educating all of the state’s public school students.
The state Superintendent of Schools, Mike Flanagan, presided over the meeting which was aimed at helping the state board get a better sense of the economic forces behind the state’s recent budget decisions. Two economists presented loads of data, but this statistic made the greatest impression on me:
In the year 2000 Michigan had the 16th highest per capita income in the United States. By 2006 we had fallen to 33rd. By the end of 2010, we are expected to be in the bottom 10.