Michigan State University President Lou Ann Simon has characterized proposed state aid cuts as "brutal," although she gamely acknowledges "We can make this work."

They probably can. Although news stories focus on "headline" numbers, such as "a 21 percent cut" (or smaller if the university restrains tuition hikes), the reality is less dire.

In the last fiscal year (2009-2010), total spending at MSU was $944.8 million. Gov. Snyder's budget would slice $42.6 million from that (assuming MSU restrains tuition hikes), which amounts to a spending reduction of just 4.5 percent.

Thousands of tax-paying Michigan businesses and families have had to make far larger cuts work in their own budgets.