Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder released his executive budget recommendation. Some people have incorrectly suggested that Gov. Snyder’s budget includes an increase in funding for schools.  

It is true that Gov. Snyder’s proposal would increase per-pupil foundation grants by $75 per student. However, this does not reflect total K-12 funding and many schools would receive a decrease in total funding under Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget. As always, the devil is in the details, and the early reports citing an increase in funding are not accurate. 

For instance, Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget eliminates performance-based funding, which would result in cuts for many schools. Royal Oak Schools currently receives $100 per student in performance-based funding, meaning they would lose $100 per student under Gov. Snyder’s recommendation. Madison District Public Schools would lose $40 per student.  

Gov. Snyder’s recommended budget also reduces “best practices” funding from $50 per student to $20 per student. Under the governor’s proposal, Royal Oak, Madison and Lamphere Schools would all lose $30 per student. 

Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget includes additional funds for elementary school reading and career technical education; however, these are restricted funds and it is unknown what school districts may receive these funds. 

Due to Proposal A from 1994, Royal Oak and Lamphere schools are not eligible to receive at-risk funds. This needs to be changed as both school districts have a large and increasing at-risk student populations but do not receive funding to support these students. All school districts should have access to these funds. Madison District Public Schools may receive a $151 per student increase in at-risk funding.  

If our schools receive the $75 per student increase under Gov. Snyder’s recommendation, his budget would result in a:  

*   Funding decrease of $250,000, $55 per student for Royal Oak Schools 

*   Funding decrease of $20,500, $15 per student for Madison District Public Schools 

*   Increase of $45 per student for Lamphere Schools  

For context, I’ve been informed that Madison District Public Schools would have to consider eliminating their new high school construction and robotics programs, at a time when Gov. Snyder has called for more vocational and technical opportunities at the high school level. They would also have to cut back, or even eliminate, unique opportunities for students such as the national NASA Space Program that their Wilkinson Middle School students competed in last year. 

This is very concerning to me as these figures do not account for the impact inflation will have on our schools. As presented to the Legislature, I do not support Gov. Snyder’s budget recommendation which would allocate $462 million, $309 per student, in School Aid Fund dollars for General Fund purposes. The School Aid Fund should only be used to support our children’s K-12 education, as was intended when voters approved Proposal A in 1994. We cannot continue to disinvest in our children’s education. If we invest these dollars in our schools we could increase K-12 funding by $384 per student next year, not $75 as Gov. Snyder has recommended. 

While our state’s general funds are limited due to the $1.8 billion corporate tax break in 2011, enacting a graduate income tax to provide for Tax Equality is a responsible and equitable way to increase general funds to help lower tuition rates, fix our roads and invest in our communities. In the next several week I will be introducing legislation to create a graduate income tax that brings tax relief to 95 percent of Michiganders, ensures the top 1 percent pay a similar rate in local and state taxes as everyone else, and increases revenue to invest in our shared obligations — education, roads, and our communities. 

Please know that I will work diligently with my colleagues to improve upon Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget as it moves through the Legislature. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter please feel free to contact my office.  
Click here to review the House Fiscal Agency’s analysis of Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget by school district.