LANSING – State Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) praised Gov. Rick Snyder for introducing a budget proposal that mirrors House Democrat priorities by increasing school funding and bringing tax relief to middle-class families. However, Brinks cautioned that properly funded schools and middle-class tax relief are priorities that should be reflected in the budget annually, not one-time gimmicks to be used only during election years.

“It’s good to see that the governor finally understands that we must increase funding for our kids’ schools, and that Michigan’s middle-class families need tax relief,” Brinks said. “However, Republican-backed school funding cuts and tax increases got us to this point in the first place. Properly funding our schools and helping middle-class families make ends meet are important matters every year, not just during election years.”

The governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-15 recommends restoring $100 in per-student school funding. However, that increase would still leave Michigan schools far below per-pupil spending levels before Gov. Snyder took office. In 2011, the governor and Republican-led Legislature cut per-pupil funding – the portion of school funding that actually reaches classrooms – by $470. In subsequent years, per-pupil spending was increased only modestly, and it now remains an average of $440 below per-pupil funding in 2010. The governor’s proposal restores less than 25 percent of the money they’ve cut from our schools, still leaving schools at a massive deficit. The governor’s budget proposal continues to short-change Michigan’s children by extending school funding cuts that have amounted to $3 billion since he took office.

“The proposed increase to school funding simply isn’t enough, and it still leaves our kids in classrooms that receive much less per student than they did four years ago,” Brinks said. “It’s unacceptable to scrimp on our kids’ education. Our state needs to make education a priority, so that all of our kids can have a world-class education and prepare for the best careers of the future.”

The governor’s budget proposal also calls for restoring the Homestead Property Tax Credit to families earning between $50,000-$60,000 annually. Shortly after taking office in 2011, Snyder called for sweeping tax code changes that resulted in 400,000 Michigan families losing their Homestead Property Tax Credit. Rep. Brinks co-sponsored House Bill 4565, which would restore the tax credit to families earning up to $60,000, but the bill has languished in the House Committee on Tax Policy. On Jan. 22, House Democrats asked that the bill be discharged from committee and brought to the House floor for an up-or-down vote, but House Republicans blocked that request.

“It’s good to see that the governor understands that middle-class families have been taxed to the limit and need relief,” Brinks said. “I was discouraged when House Republicans passed on the opportunity to deliver tax relief to families last month, but I am hopeful they’ll include the expanded Homestead Property Tax Credit in the budget now that it has the governor’s backing.”