LANSING – State Representative Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) 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, Yanez 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 am pleased that the governor and his Republican colleagues have finally listened to our calls to increase school funding and give tax relief to struggling middle-class families and senior citizens,”said Yanez. “This budget is a start toward undoing the harm that his spending cuts and tax increases have done, but we still need to do more. Families need real help, and that means we have to do more than just give them a one-time tax break during an election year.”
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.
“Our schools are still underwater when it comes to being able to provide kids with the books, computers and other resources they need to learn,” said Yanez. “Making sure that every child gets the best possible education has to be one of our top priorities. If we want a strong and growing Michigan economy then we have to do better so that our kids leave school ready for college or a technical school, and ready for the jobs that will be there for them.”
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. Yanez 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 for Michigan families that the governor has finally recognized the need for tax relief,”said Yanez. “It’s too bad that House Republicans blocked our attempt to deliver tax relief last month by refusing to take a vote on our bills. I hope they see the error of their ways and support their governor by voting yes on this and other tax relief bills we’ve sponsored.”