May 30, 2017
The Honorable Geoff Hansen, Chair
Senate K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909
Dear Senator Hansen,
We are writing to you today to ask for your support in increasing funding for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming in Michigan’s schools as part of the K-12 education omnibus budget.
Companies in northern Michigan and around the state are facing a critical labor shortage of individuals who have STEM skills and training. These positions range from software engineers, to website developers, to robot technicians. Job boards are full of these positions, yet our employers struggle to fill them. With that in mind, we desire to position our region as a magnet for the type of STEM talent that is transforming our state and national economy. Unfortunately K-12 funding for STEM programs has not kept pace with marketplace demand leaving many of our local students without the education or training required to be hired for the jobs that already exist in their hometowns.
As I’m sure you know, state investment in STEM education makes good sense. USA Today reports that 70% of low skill jobs are at risk of being automated in the next 20 years, along with 46% of medium skill jobs. Conversely, only 8% of high skilled jobs are at risk of becoming automated. It is projected that over the next four years, the growth rate for STEM based careers is expected to be at least four times that of other occupations. We also know that STEM careers provide wages on average that are higher than that of other occupations and industries in our region. Our students are better served by being exposed to the type of education and training that will lead to robust and high-earning career opportunities.
To that end, as leaders in business, education, and the community in northern Michigan, we urge your support of increased funding in the FY 2017-18 K-12 education omnibus budget for STEM initiatives and programs (Section 99s). We certainly appreciate the additional STEM funding the Senate has included in its K-12 budget, but would ask that you strongly consider increasing funding in Section 99s to the levels proposed by the House.
We believe that STEM education is critical to building a stable, year round economy in our region that is nationally and globally competitive. We appreciate the support and partnership from our state legislature and ask for your increased investment in STEM programming.
Director of Government Relations