TRI-CITY AREA — Next in the cross hairs of state budget cuts? Michigan State University Extension offices believe they could fall victim to a line item budget veto by Governor Jennifer Granholm sometime this week.
If that happens, the impact will be swift, Lapeer County Extension Director Phil Kaatz said. Should the governor deny the funding, all extension offices would close immediately and, in Lapeer, all eleven employees would be out of a job until further notice.
"We would see a complete loss of all programs including after school programs and clubs with 4-H," Kaatz said.
Residents seeking home foreclosure counseling and other financial information—very timely services the extension is providing—will also be out of luck.
Judge takes a look at hogs as 4-Hers move them through the ring at this year’s Eastern Michigan Fair. The program is in jeopardy due to state budget issues.
"Then there are the traditional programs that touch the lives of thousands in this county," Kaatz said, referring to agriculture, Master Gardener and land use education programs.
He said extension officials are encouraging residents to contact their representatives in Lansing to voice opposition against the cuts.
Detailed information about the economic challenges the extension program is facing and tips on how residents can voice their support can be found online at www.msue.msu.edu/lapeer.
Officials grew worried at the fate of the Extension program when they did not receive the state allocation payments for both the Extension (MSUE) and Michigan Agricultural Experiment Stations (MAES) program in October as expected. Since then, state officials have declined to give a reason for the shortage.
"Not having received a satisfactory answer, this raises the question of whether Governor Granholm will exercise her line-item veto power and not approve the MAES and MSUE budgets," the university said in a press release.
"The university is in the process of reviewing all contracts to determine how they can be phased out since matching funding requirements cannot be met."
Granholm must take action on the spending bills this week. If all funding is cut, Michigan will be the only state in the nation to not have an extension program.