State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) praised Gov. Rick Snyder today for introducing a budget proposal that mirrors House Democrat priorities by increasing school funding and bringing tax relief to middle-class families. However, Dianda 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.

“I’m proud to announce the governor took House Democrats’ proposals seriously and included an increase in both education funding and the Homestead Property Tax Credit in his budget. I’m also glad he allotted some funds to go toward helping out local communities,” said Dianda. “However, Michigan families are in need of real, long-term help – not just token relief when election years roll around. Now that he has made his proposals, we have to wait and hope that these funds will benefit our own municipalities in the U.P. Along with real tax relief, some of this money should go toward bettering police and fire squads up here and making sure our road commissions have enough money to clear the snow off the roads.”

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.

“Michigan children are sadly being continually left behind when it comes to funding their education,” Dianda said. “As legislators, we have to do a better job of finding the necessary funds to make Michigan’s public education system the very best it can be. I know we can do better and I pledge to keep working toward this goal.”

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. Dianda 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 wonderful that the governor recognized the need for middle-class tax relief,” said Dianda. “I was disappointed when House Republicans missed the opportunity to deliver that tax relief last month by blocking our discharge request, but I am now hopeful that they will listen to the governor and take action now to bring tax relief to struggling Michiganders.”