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Michigan Can't Afford School Bus Safety Inspections, May Stop Service

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As part of its Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up a few of the best local stories of the day.

State budget cuts have led Michigan to lay off all of its state school bus inspectors, which means that as soon as Nov. 2 schools that can't pay for the inspections themselves may stop their bus services, reports Ron French of the Detroit News. The inspection program, which costs the state $1.4 million a year, is being eliminated in order to battle a $2.8 billion deficit. It is illegal to operate school buses without yearly inspections.

Nathan Rowen, director of transportation for the Lansing School District, expressed concern that his district would be unable to bus its roughly 4,500 students to and from school. "I could have the fleet out of business if they haven't corrected [the law] yet," he said, according to Scott Davis of the Lansing State Journal.

State Rep. Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland) suggested that the law be amended to make the safety inspections voluntary: "It's not a good thing, but it's a budget reality." The inspector lay-offs, said LeBlanc, "really [do] point to the economic distress we're in...[T]he money simply is not there."

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Raven Miller, 11, is one of the many homeless students in Southern Florida's Charlotte County School District, where the number of homeless children has tripled in the past year, reports Sarah Hollenbeck of the local NBC affiliate. Her father, Andrew, recently got a job at a fast food restaurant, after applying for about 50 different positions. The two live together in a homeless shelter, and have trouble affording things like pencils or crayons. "We're going to get through this and we'll be happy again," said Raven. She and her father only have a month left at the shelter, before their 90 days are up and they will be kicked out.

The local increase in homeless kids happened at the same time that incoming federal funds earmarked for homeless students have been cut by half, so the district is forced to do three times more with less than half as much. But still, the Millers are glad to have some help. "Raven would not be in school right now and I would be homeschooling her or I wouldn't have her," without the funds, said Andrew, which is something Raven refused to think about. "He's my bestest friend and he's the only one pretty much there for me. And I love him for that," she said.

If we could only get these kids into a hot air balloon, they might get the attention they deserve...

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Wayne Gammons has been unemployed for over two years. Gammons, who is legally blind, has had difficulty finding work and is supporting his family of five on his $1,000 per month disability checks, reports Julia Bruck of Southern Illinois' KFVS. He was getting help from Kathy Sikora of the Farm Resource Center, which helps struggling rural families with things like electric bills, food, and school supplies, but much of that assistance has stopped when budget cuts halted their funding over the summer. "There are several times we've needed their help and she wasn't there because funding is gone," Gammons said. The Farm Resource Center is trying to raise private funds and hopes to reopen some of its operations by January.

HuffPost readers: Seen a good local story? Heard about a heroic judge, neighbor, or doctor helping people stay in their homes? Tell us about it! Email jmhattem@gmail.com.