By Sen. John Bizon, M.D.
19th Senate District
For years I’ve understood the value in funding critical access care, and I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of this funding. It’s excruciating to think of the cuts that would have to be made if millions of dollars were stripped from rural hospitals.
Likewise, the gains we’ve made as a state with expanding the medical residency program have placed Michigan among the most attractive states in the Midwest for aspiring doctors to obtain their medical credentials.
Sadly, if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer doesn’t reinstate in the 2020 state budget nearly $1 billion in line-item vetoes she made in October, our most valuable medical resources will suffer in the district that I represent — Barry, Calhoun and Ionia counties.
As many of you know, not only did the governor chop $1 billion in state-funded services, but she also transferred $650 million away from much-needed programming for Michigan families, including services for families with autistic children.
The Michigan Senate has proposed a number of supplementals that would reinstate many of her cuts, but the governor will not commit to restoring the funding, nor has she promised not to make any further administrative transfers.
I have spoken with administrators in Barry, Calhoun and Ionia counties, and each county is impacted by the budget cuts. There are too many cuts to write in detail, and that is unacceptable.
In Calhoun County, jail reimbursements and rural road patrol funding equivalent to two full-time road patrol officers are being held up because of Gov. Whitmer’s senseless vetoes.
In addition, the governor’s cuts are affecting hospital critical access and obstetrician and gynecology service funding for rural hospitals in our district, including at Sparrow Ionia Hospital, Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings, and Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall.
Albion College officials call my office weekly out of concern for their students, whose Michigan Tuition Grant funding may not be available to apply to spring semester’s tuition bill.
In an effort to gain support for her 45-cent gas tax hike, the governor is undoing years and years of money being well spent in critical areas of our lives. She’s decided to make a political point and use Michigan priorities as pawns. The Democrat legislators in the House and the Senate even had the opportunity to introduce legislation for her gas tax and none of them chose to introduce any such bills.
The governor has the power to restore all this funding immediately, and my hope is that she will keep her word and restore the cuts she made more than six weeks ago.
I am committed to working to find a solution to restore this money. Time is of the essence; programs are being cut, and many more services won’t get the funding they need to operate, leaving Michiganders to suffer.
Please call Gov. Whitmer’s office and tell her staff you’d like to see the cuts restored immediately so we don’t lose any momentum in moving our state forward. The governor’s constituent services line can be reached at 517-335-7858.
This op-ed can be found at https://wbckfm.com/an-op-ed-from-state-senator-dr-john-bizon/. State Sen. John Bizon, M.D., R-Battle Creek, represents Michigan’s 19th District.