Educators on House K-12 Budget: One Step Forward, Many Steps Backward

NEWS RELEASE: As studies highlight the need to overhaul Michigan’s school funding formula to make positive, long-term investments in the state’s K-12 schools, the Michigan House of Representatives today unveiled a budget that, at long last, stops raiding the School Aid Fund to pay for higher education, but instead raids the School Aid Fund even further to pay for road repairs among other significant problems.

“Educators have insisted it’s long past time to stop raiding the School Aid Fund to pay for other priorities, and while the House took a step in that direction by removing higher education funding from it, they took even larger steps backwards by creating a long-term & significant structural problem in Michigan’s public education finances,” said Dr. George Heitsch, TCA President & Superintendent of Farmington Schools. “Lawmakers have repeatedly broken the promise to Michigan’s voters by diverting money out of the School Aid Fund. The only difference in this proposal is the money gets diverted out of the School Aid Fund before it even gets there instead of after. It’s not any less of a broken promise and only makes Michigan’s school funding crisis worse.”

The House plan would create a permanent change to how Michigan collects sales tax at gas pumps that would divert more than $600 million annually out of the School Aid Fund. While their budget utilizes one-time fixes to make up for the funding gap they’d be creating, there are no guarantees those fixes would exist beyond this year, putting funding for every school in Michigan into jeopardy in the years that would follow.

“The House’s budget plan is like cutting off one leg of a stool and propping it back up with some cheap glue and crossed fingers. It’s eventually going to fall apart, but they’re hoping it holds up long enough for someone else to take the blame when it does,” added Dr. Russell Pickell, Superintendent of Riverview Schools. “Governor Whitmer has the only plan on the table that would not only make the investments needed in our schools, but changes how the state spends that money to better meet the needs of our students. Educators remain proud supporters of her budget plan and will continue to push for its passage.”