Universities vie for the highest caliber faculty in a number of ways, including offering competitive partner benefits. In states like Michigan that do not offer recognition for even same-sex domestic partnerships, public universities there have still found ways to offer benefits to unmarried partners so they do not lose qualified candidates to schools in other states. According to an amendment to next year’s education budget by State Rep. Dave Agema (R), universities will now be punished to the tune of 5% of their funding for offering these benefits:
AGEMA: I had an amendment put into the education budget that takes 5% away from colleges that give same sex/unmarried benefits and places up to $60 million of that into the MPSRS K-12 budget if colleges do not stop skirting the law and the will of the people. Colleges can’t say they are short of money when they skirt the law and give such benefits. The Dems didn’t like this – it passed.
If the amendment becomes law, Michigan universities will suffer for trying to attract distinguished candidates to complement their faculty. In fact, the cuts would make it quite likely the universities would have to cut jobs in order to continue competing for strong candidates. And if the caliber of the university declines because of the lost faculty, it also makes it harder for the university to competitively attract students to pay tuition there.
Agema is just the latest Republican to prioritize a social agenda over the creation of jobs, echoing efforts in Pennsylvania and Minnesota to ban same-sex marriage despite huge budget shortfalls in both states. Given the dire economic situation in Michigan, attacking the LGBT community should be much lower on his list than creating and maintaining jobs or supporting education so that the state doesn’t lose taxpaying students in a “brain drain” to other states. But no, apparently the worst possible thing for Michigan would be for it to continue having gays and lesbians teaching at its universities.
The House and Senate budget bills now go to a conference committee to be combined into a final bill.
(H/T: AMERICAblog Gay)