Bill allowing Michigan's 28 community colleges to award 4-year degrees passes, but faces continued opposition from universities

Ann Arbor Journal
It’s an odd sight indeed, seeing a legislator’s name appear as the sponsor of a bill and then in the “Nays” section of the voting ledger.

Yet that’s exactly where state Rep. David Rutledge of Ypsilanti found himself on House Bill 4496 of 2011, the legislation that would amend the Community College Act to allow Michigan’s 28 community colleges to offer four-year degrees in five subjects, including nursing.

The Ann Arbor Journal asked Rutledge, recently, for his reaction to the attack ads the Michigan Education Association has launched against his colleague, Republican Mark Ouimet, for his votes in support of cuts in K-12 spending (the "Mark Ouimet did what?" ads).

Rutledge said that lawmakers can only justify their continued presence in Lansing by what they do for their voters. If you don’t take care of the people, the people won’t take care of you.

Sometimes this means voting against your beliefs, Rutledge said. House Bill 4496 was one such occasion, so much so that Rutledge removed his name from the sponsorship prior to voting against a measure he helped bring to the table.

Why? Simple, Rutledge explained days before the vote: Eastern Michigan University is in Rutledge's turf, the 54th District. Washtenaw Community College, while a valued part of the community, is not. If Rutledge doesn’t take care of his constituent, the university, he’d have no one to blame if the university and its affiliates didn’t take care of him.

Eastern Michigan University has lead the local charge against HB 4496 and its Senate equivalent, Senate Bill 225. It joins the Presidents Council State Universities of Michigan as well as U-M Flint, Wayne State, Oakland University and others in opposing the legislation.
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