Statement from state Representative Jim Townsend on his opposition to the School Aid Fund budget:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

“I voted against House Bill 4228, the omnibus K-12 and higher education budget bill today because this legislation is not a serious attempt to reverse the massive cuts in public education perpetrated by the governor and the legislative majority over the last two years. These cuts totaled more than $2 billion, or $470 per student. Raising the per-student allowance by just five dollars, as is the case in the Royal Oak and Lamphere districts and many, many others, would be laughable if the impact on our students and schools weren’t so tragic.

“Two years ago the Republicans created a crisis in the School Aid Fund by enacting the largest corporate tax giveaway in the history of our state, which robbed our schools and students of critically important dollars. Now, a week after the state’s leading economists tell us that we have $500 million of additional revenue to spend — money that we should be using to undo that harm — the Republicans can only spare a few dollars per student to repair the fiscal and educational damage their policies have caused.

“The story with respect to higher education is no better. Two years ago, in order to fill the fiscal hole created by that same corporate tax giveaway, the governor and the Republicans cut support for higher education by 15 percent. Last year, the majority restored just 3 percent of that cut and this year they are proposing to replace just 2 percent. Taken together, our state universities and community colleges are still 10 percent below where they were; our students are still struggling to afford college and our investment in the engine of our state’s economy continues to erode in comparison to the states we compete against.

“This budget fails to live up to the values of opportunity, accountability and fairness that have made our families strong and our state prosperous over the years. It denies our students the opportunity to achieve their potential by shortchanging their education. It continues and expands the reckless charter school experiment without proper accountability for the performance of these schools. Finally, it perpetuates the choice made by the majority to pay for their massive corporate tax cut by denying our schools the support they need.

“How many schools must close? How many districts must suspend high school or go into receivership? How many college students must drop out before we recognize the fundamental unfairness of the choices the majority has made? This budget breaks faith with Michigan’s values and puts the Michigan Dream of a stable, sustainable middle-class future out of reach for more and more families. We can and must do better.”