Roberts, House Dems Push Back on Education Budget

Republican funding proposal fails students
Thursday, April 11, 2013

State Representative Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) voiced her opposition to the proposed budget for Michigan’s K-12 schools and colleges today. Despite House Democrats’ objections, the budget was voted out of the Appropriations Committee on a party-line vote and now heads to consideration in the full House.

“During March is Reading Month I visited schools in my district and saw first-hand how prior budget cuts are hurting our local schools and the ability for our children to achieve and be successful, said Roberts, who serves on the Appropriations Committee. “Funding education for our children at all levels should be a top priority and the Republican proposed budget proves that education is not their priority. My colleagues and I know better, and have pushed back for the sake of our children’s futures to no avail.”

The School Aid budget contains no increase in the per-pupil foundation allowance, meaning there’s no reversal for the drastic cuts that schools have faced over the last two years and Republicans once again want to take money out of the School Aid Fund to help pay for higher education costs. House Democrats proposed increasing funding by $320 per pupil. Additionally, Republicans decreased funding for Great Start programs relative to the Governor’s recommendation, meaning fewer kids will be eligible for early childhood education. However, Democrats have proposed raising early education funding by $65 million.

“The governor was right when he expressed his desire to expand early childhood education in Michigan,” continued Roberts. “Investing in preschool has proven to provide long-term benefits in the classroom but the House Republicans would rather just slash funds across the board despite all logic.”

The higher education budget increases by a mere 2.2 percent. But much of that funding is tied to various performance metrics, and some universities that legally negotiated labor contracts will see a 15 percent cut in their funding. Democrats offered amendments to increase the overall funding in the budget, and to replace money taken from the School Aid Fund with money from the General Fund, so the School Aid Fund could be freed up for use in K-12 schools, its intended purpose.