Lawmakers strive to keep promise

Even though a bill was passed to eliminate funding for the Michigan Promise Scholarship, efforts continue to save at least a portion of the funding for the state’s main college scholarship program.
“I was going to use the money for books and a laptop, and next year’s tuition since I have a scholarship this year,” MCCC student Marissa Beste said about the scholarship.
The scholarship awards $4,000 to high school graduates who score above average on the annual Michigan Merit Exam during their junior year of high school.
How well students score determines whether they can receive the money up front, or whether they have to wait until  they successfully complete two years of postsecondary education.
“It’s so unfair to all those people who can’t afford to go to school without the scholarship,” said MCCC student Kory Hogan.
“What are they supposed to do now? Also, they should have given us more of a warning instead of cutting it right before school started.”
“They didn’t give enough warning. I didn’t have time to apply for financial aid or other scholarships,” Hogan said.
The House, which is controlled by Democrats, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, are trying to restore some of the money.
Because Granholm supports the Promise, she intends to exercise her line item veto authority.
Granholm said Monday she will veto line items in budget bills to fund high priorities such as the Michigan Promise Scholarship, Medicaid, local police and firefighters.
Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon wouldn’t say how the House would cover the additional $434.7 million in spending, but that Democrats want to fund the scholarship.
About 96,000 students statewide, and as many as 200 MCCC students, are due a portion of the $4,000 scholarship this academic year.
A supplemental bill, proposed by House Democrats, would restore the scholarship, which was eliminated this summer. It would also cut revenue sharing payments to local governments by 3.5 percent, rather than the 11 percent cut they’re set to see.
Some cities, townships, and counties use revenue-sharing payments to help cover the cost of police, firefighters, and other services.
But the $140 million dollar scholarship program might still be eliminated altogether as lawmakers try to erase a $2.8 billion shortfall in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.
State Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, said education is one of the areas where she will not support cuts. Rep. Angerer also mentioned she has received many concerned letters from students who disapprove of lawmakers cutting the Promise Scholarship.
“I’m hearing them. They’re telling me ‘a promise is a promise,” Angerer said to The Monroe Evening News.
State Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, also mentioned efforts will be made to restore the scholarship. 
The House may identify a way to fund the program but did not specify if it would be through a targeted tax increase.