Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 19, 2014

Editorial: Snyder initiatives a mixed bag

In his fourth State of the State address, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday night said he is going to create what he called the Office for New Americans, which will offer immigration services, including a regional center for the EB-5 visa program, which aims to attract talented immigrant entrepreneurs.

He also called on the state to again increase spending for the Great Start Readiness program so low-income children no longer have to be on a waiting list for financial help to attend preschool.

Michigan led the nation last year with the biggest increase — in both real dollars and a percentage of spending — on early childhood programs.

The two initiatives, though welcome, may strike those who have children in public schools as more than a bit ironic.

This is the state, after all, that has cut K-12 and higher ed spending by billions in recent years, cutting K-12 per-pupil spending by $470 or so on average, despite Snyder’s claim — which he later addressed — that spending has gone up about $660 per student. Snyder said that amount represents state investment in retirement payments; but that doesn’t alter the fact that spending for classroom instruction is down.

So on the one hand, Snyder and Michigan are leading the nation in spending on critical pre-K and early childhood programs while cutting K-12 spending, then working to lure entrepreneurial immigrants — who presumably already have an education — to move to the state.

The mixed message: If you’re not yet in school or if you come to us fully trained, the state is here for you; If not ...

Snyder, who is facing re-election this year, must tell voters what happened to the jobs he promised when he led a billion-dollar tax cut for business four years ago and again when he signed right-to-work legislation a year ago.

Michigan is on the rebound; but in truth, nearly all of that recovery can be traced to the resurrection of the auto industry. Snyder has 10 months or so to convince voters that he has been part of the long-term solution.

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