Sunday, September 30, 2007

Budget crisis -- the kids are counting on you

Even if the legislature can manage some sort of budget resolution in the eleventh hour tonight, eight months of political game playing, postponing, stalling, bickering, heel digging, posturing, neglect, irresponsibility, and dereliction of duty have left a permanent stain on Michigan and her people.

Today, a friend confided that her son -- a very bright, promising high school student -- read an account of the budget dealings in Lansing and said, "Mom, Michigan sucks."

The budget crisis -- an historic and monumental embarrassment -- has demolished this young man's sense of pride and honor in his state. He's the kind of kid we want to educate well and keep in Michigan, but he'll probably attend college elsewhere and never return. Why should he?

He is bright enough to see that the legislature is populated by politicians more concerned with winning elections than responsible stewardship of the commons. He knows that schools have not yet received funds they were due months ago and that these funds were part of a sleight of hand balancing illusion. He understands that his access to education was considered potentially expendable in a high stakes game of chicken. Why on earth would he want to stay here?

Michigan has always been his home, but how welcoming can it feel tonight, as the prospect of government shutdown hangs over his home?

Good luck, legislators. The kids are counting on you.