This excerpt from the November 19, 2019 Board Retreat caught my attention. First, what Trustee McKnight-Morton said about WCC’s state appropriation is not true. It’s not mostly true. It’s not even slightly true.
Objectively, it is flat-out wrong.
Factually speaking, WCC’s state appropriation increased from $9.5M in 2007 to $18.5M in 2019. That is a 92% increase over 12 years. Adjusting for inflation, WCC’s state appropriation increased by 61%. In 8 of those 12 years, WCC received more money from the State than it received the year before.
WCC is NOT receiving less money from the State of Michigan.
Here is the truth: WCC’s state appropriation is a smaller percentage of WCC’s overall financial picture today than it has been in the past. That’s because property tax revenues and revenues from student tuition and fee are growing at a much faster rate than the State appropriation is. But the state appropriation is growing.
Objectively, the State gives more money to WCC today than it ever has.
What false statements about WCC’s state appropriation could mean
I don’t know why Trustee McKnight-Morton apparently believes that the State is reducing WCC’s appropriation. If she relies on someone else to provide her with information, that’s a problem. Trustees need accurate information about the status of the College’s financial picture. Appropriation information is publicly available, and readily verifiable. It is disturbing that neither the College President nor the Chief Financial Officer corrected Trustee McKnight-Morton’s misstatement.
Second, the reference to the state appropriation could be deliberately wrong. Again, the information is publicly available and readily verifiable, so there’s little point in misstating objective facts. Nonetheless, the College officers are fully aware of the status of the state appropriation. It is alarming that none of them stepped in to provide correct information.
Third, it could mean that Trustee McKnight-Morton doesn’t actually know what’s going on with the appropriation. This is also a problem because she’s been on the board since 1994. If anyone should know what’s happening with WCC’s state funding, it is her. This person makes multi-million dollar spending decisions and may not have all the facts.
Frankly, none of the Trustees seemed to know that WCC’s state appropriation has RISEN substantially over the last decade. If they did know this, they did nothing to correct Trustee McKnight-Morton’s confusion. And this might be the biggest problem of all.
The truth is fundamental to responsible governance
Shinola is never an acceptable substitute for the truth, regardless of who is serving it up or why.
The taxpayers deserve the truth from those we’ve elected to serve us. We also deserve elected officials who can analyze the information presented to them, and readily distinguish between fact and falsehood. Trustees mustn’t mindlessly accept false narratives proffered to support poorly crafted policies and steer spending authorizations that are detrimental to WCC.
Most of all, our elected officials must not breathe life into untruths by allowing them to pass unchallenged.
Photo Credit: Pictures of Money, via Flickr.com