Some of you probably think I’ve gone off the deep end, posting all the apologetics of various aspects of the Governor’s budget like a slavish devotee. Well, hopefully this post will allay your fears. While I think there are a lot of tough but necessary decisions and sensible reasoning in the budget, I am one of the many who believe the cuts to education spending it proposes are destructive and must be prevented.
The single most important thing we can do is to convince legislators in the Republican majority that the people who elected them oppose those cuts. Now, in my experience there are two groups whose opinions matter to most legislators: their campaign donors, and voters in their own districts. So your game plan on this issue, and many others that will arise in the eighteen months between now and the next election, will vary depending on where you live.
If like me you reside in a district represented in both the House and Senate by Democrats, don’t waste your time calling your legislators. For example, writing my State Senator Rebekah Warren and my State Rep. Jeff Irwin about the education cuts would just be preaching to the choir. Even if they were on the fence, though, lobbying them would be fairly useless, because they are in the minority party. As I’ve said before, the only votes that matter right now are those of Republicans.
Instead, now is a good time to remember with your friends or family who live in State or House districts represented by Republicans, and remind them that they have the opportunity to let their Republican legislator know they need to look elsewhere to balance the budget.
Now, if you live in a district represented by a Republican, YOU have real power. Call, email, or write a letter to your rep and your Senator. Then get the word out to others. Write a letter to the editor, post on Facebook, tweet about it, whatever works for you. And if you know anybody with school age kids or grandkids, any rabid UM/MSU/CMU/WMU/OU/Michigan Tech alumni, or anybody else who might be remotely sympathetic on this issue, encourage them to do the same.
Not sure who your legislators are or what party they belong to? Thanks, you doofus, it’s people like you who are ‘too busy to pay attention to politics’ and helped us get in this mess in the first place. No need to fret, though, now’s your chance to atone for your apathy. You can go to the handy locator forms for the House or the Senate, enter your zip or address, and if you pull up someone with an ‘R’ next to their name, you know it’s time to get to work.
These quick and easy rules of thumbs are guaranteed to save you time and energy. If everybody chips in a couple of minutes, we could go a long way toward keeping down tuition and improving education for all the students we know. Share this post with all your pissed off acquaintances, and happy lobbying!