LANSING – The School Aid Fund budget passed by the Michigan House of Representatives today is a great improvement over the House’s proposed education budget passed in April and incorporates many of the budget priorities outlined by House Democrats, House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) said.
“We had deep concerns over the House education budget that passed in April because it favored cyber schools over community schools and underfunded or eliminated programs designed to help at-risk youth,” Greimel said. “We’re glad to see that our colleagues had reservations, too, and listened to our ideas on budget priorities. As a result, the final education budget that passed today is a vast improvement over the proposed budget, and will go a long way to helping Michigan’s children get a world-class education and prepare for the best careers of the future.”
Improvements from the proposed budget that followed House Democratic priorities include:
- Dedicating $26 million to third-grade reading improvement initiatives. The House’s proposed budget didn’t fund for this program.
- Increasing funding for at-risk students by $70 million. House Republicans proposed no increases for at-risk students in their budget.
- Restoring bilingual education and increasing adult education funding by $3 million. House Republicans defunded these programs in their budget plan.
- Increasing funding on higher education. Universities will see average funding increase 1.5 percent. This is an improvement from the 1 percent funding increase proposed by House Republicans, but higher education hasn’t yet recovered from the massive funding cuts made in 2011.
“House Democrats have been calling for increasing the per-pupil allowance, increasing money for at-risk students and strong investment in improving third grade reading. After a lot of work, our priorities are now in this budget,” said Rep. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “While it’s not perfect, and there is still room for much improvement, this is a better budget for Michigan kids than what we saw earlier this year.”
Higher education is also a prime concern for House Democrats, who argued for better funding for community colleges and universities. Better funding will slow down the fast pace of tuition increases, which has pushed a college education out of reach for too many Michigan families.
“Parents dream about their children going to college and getting a start on rewarding careers,” House Democratic Floor Leader and Appropriations Committee member Rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) said. “We need to do more to make college accessible to all Michigan students, and this is a first step in that direction. Moving forward, the Michigan House Democrats will continue to fight for better schools and better education for Michigan kids, from pre-kindergarten through post-graduate university programs.”