/Legislator Q&A

Legislator Q&A

M&M club invites government officials to a discussion at SC4
Mel Buskirk
Copy Editor

On Thursday, April 2, almost 100 people filled the seats of the Fine Arts Theater in order to meet our state’s legislators and ask them questions. The legislators in attendance were Rep. Dan Lauwers, Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, Rep. Paul Muxlow, Sen. Phil Pavlov, and Mike Brownfield.
The free event, hosted by the Marketing and Management club, invited the public to join the dialogue and have their wide range of questions answered by Michigan’s government officials.
Topics brought up during the Q&A varied from the government outlook on the economy, plans to fix the roads, healthcare, and funding for education amongst many other topics. One subject brought up during the Q&A that truly affects students is tuition.
John Lusk, professor of English and Journalism at SC4, asked, “Students here face a tuition raise in the upcoming fall semester. Part of the reason the board explained was lack of funding at appropriate levels by the state. So my question is what’s being done to address that perceived lack or real lack of funding so students don’t face yearly increases?”
Sen. Pavlov responded with, “In 2011, to your point John, we expanded dual enrollment opportunities, so if you’re in this classroom you might’ve been in high school, as low as 9th grade you have an opportunity to test in to take some college credits. Now why is that important? It’s important because we’re able to pay for that college education for those actual credits at the same time we’re paying for the foundation allowance to your traditional public school. So what kids could do is leverage their ability to draw down their college credits at the same time working on their diploma. We also expanded a pretty good expansion into the Middle College program, where we’re allowing, essentially, a grade 13 program so that when you do graduate from high school you have a diploma in one hand and an associate’s in the other. The beautiful part about that is the student wouldn’t have accumulated any personal debt; their speed to degree has increased incredibly. And the other thing is you’re now prepared for the next step in your education. If you decide to use the career certificate plan, you have that available. The last barrier that we have to hurdle is to have universities to accept the credits they have earned without having to go back and take remedial classes. That is an opportunity to cut your education in half.”
Rep. Muxlow added, “Over 25% of enrollment here is dual enrolled or through Middle College. There’s another three-quarters of enrollment that needs help. I think it’s a big step and we’ve been working on it and tuition and we need to continue to work that way as costs go up every year.”
Mike Brownfield, the deputy director of strategy for Governor Snyder’s office, stated, “The governor’s 2016 budget called for a 1.4% increase in community college funding just on operations, but it called for an overall funding about an 8% increase. If we look back to 2011 there’s been about a 30% increase if you look at operational costs and retirement costs. Just on that level of funding there’s been an increase. Just a point about the dual enrollment, we’re certainly in support of, he (the Governor) wants to expand it. He also called for in the budget this year, a $6 million expansion in the grant program to assist students with tuition as well.”
Other topics heavily discussed during the Q&A included gun control, the budget for fixing the roads, job creation, incarceration rates, and environmental protection of the Great Lakes.
Brian Prigeo, 24, accounting major of Clinton Township, said, “I thought it was interesting. I never done anything like this before. It was interesting even though they were just giving politically correct answers. I thought they dodged some of it (the questions).”