Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stop Gov. Granholm from Killing the Michigan State University Extension Program by Akindele Akinyemi


The State of Michigan is going through a third world crisis when it comes to the state's economy. We have both Democrats and Republicans fighting over tax increases vs tax cuts. The same old song and dance.

One thing that no one is talking about in public is the status of the Michigan State University Extension Program. Urban Michigan cannot begin to discuss urban agriculture or horticulture unless you mention MSU Extension.

For those of you who have never heard of the MSU Extension it is a statewide program that has focused on bringing knowledge-based educational programs to the people of the state to improve their lives and communities. Today, county-based staff members, in concert with on-campus faculty members, serve every county with programming focused on agriculture and natural resources; children, youth and families; and community and economic development.

Operating synergistically with the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and other MSU units, MSU Extension extends the University’s knowledge resources to all Michigan citizens and assists them in meeting their learning needs through a variety of educational strategies, technologies and collaborative arrangements. I have, for years, lobbied for a Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station to be brought to the heart of Detroit.

MSU Extension is committed to an ongoing process of recognizing, understanding, and accepting differences and how leveraging diversity and multiculturalism can lead to organizational and programming excellence.

So now we have reached a crisis in the MSU Extension Program. It is threatened to be eliminated if Gov. Jennifer Granholm gets her way.

MSU Extension has valued a partnership with county, state and federal government for 86 years.


This past week, state budget decisions related to our partnership are of extreme concern with the following two scenarios on the table: either a 44% reduction in general fund that could become permanent after federal stimulus funds are exhausted OR a line-item veto resulting in zero funding for MSUE and MAES.


The impact of our state partners’ decision of either scenario has devastating consequences to MSUE and our county partners. Most (80%) of our state funding supports the staff of MSUE.


If our funding lines are vetoed, MSUE will be forced to cancel all county and campus based programs and meetings immediately and until further notice. This includes but is not limited to:


All 4-H club operations.


All educational workshops across all program areas.


Oversight of any county grant activity led by MSUE.


How you can help—Immediate Action is Needed:


Prevent the veto. Reach out to the Governor and her leadership team to make the point that these programs are critical to your county.

Override the veto. If our lines are vetoed, help legislators understand the need to override the veto with a 2/3 majority in both House and Senate.



In the 44% scenario- MSU Extension would have to reduce staff by at least this percentage across the state and greatly reduce programming to a very limited focus. This would become the base budget for future years. They would likely lose additional positions because so many of our staff positions are funded by matching funds, and loss of state funds will jeopardize the matching funds.


If it is the veto scenario: The state legislature has a limited window to pass an amendment to restore this funding before we would need to initiate layoff notifications to staff. A number of our staff members have one-year renewable appointments, and we would not be able to lay them off until the anniversary of their appointment.

JUST A FEW OF THE IMPACTS

  • 4-H will not exist in Michigan, which serves 236,000 youth and 27,000 adult volunteers.
  • Master Gardener Program will cease to exist.
  • More than 3,000 MSUE and MAES employees (not including County staff) will loose their jobs.
  • MSU Product Center will immediately cease to support hundreds of entrepreneurs across Michigan.
  • Project GREEEN, the successful grant program that has supported the plant industry in Michigan would immediately stop funding its programs.
  • Millions of Michigan residents will not receive vital services that help them live, work and thrive.
  • The cuts to MSU Extension and MAES means no support to help farmers and food processors with timely information affecting the business of growing food, thereby halting any progress we’ve made with the state’s only thriving industry.

If you feel that the MSU Extension partnership has brought value to your county, I encourage you to contact your state representative and state senator today. Share with them why you value the MSU Extension partnership. Tell them that their vote has the power to restore this funding and is necessary to keep the MSU Extension partnership that you have committed to intact.

Our community are depending on us. Please do nto let programs like 4-H go down the drain in the name of politics.

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