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Extension deserves funding

April 16, 2009
The Daily Mining Gazette

We'd like to think, as Michigan goes through the rather painful process of balancing its budget, that the final document ends up reflecting what most Michigan residents feel is reasonable and best represents their wants and needs.

In essence, the budget should be a blueprint outlining how our tax dollars can do the most good, or where the state will get the most bang for its buck.

We'd like to think that.

But, when it comes to spending - or not spending - hundreds of millions of dollars, we realize the heavy hitters and the political powerhouses may end up being the ones most heard in the halls of Lansing. It's the squeaky part getting the oil, in a very big way.

We're afraid getting lost in the harangue will be very cost-effective and productive organizations, like the Michigan State University Extension.

No one knows what the final budget will look like. But, there have been indications the Michigan State extension, which already underwent a 33 percent funding cut in 2001, may be facing a further 50 percent cut the next fiscal year. Some believe, if it happens, the agency will be, for all practical purposes, out of business.

The extension director in Delta County is Julie Moberg. She and her counterparts across the state are trying to show the Legislature the positive impact their programs have on the state's economy.

Agriculture is the second biggest industry in the state. The way the others are going, it's a good bet it's growing, at least in comparison.

The Michigan State extension helps that industry grow and prosper.

It's important the legislature learns those lessons, It's also important they hear from residents across the state who feel cutting funding to these programs would be incredibly counterproductive.




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