State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) urged redirecting $94.9 million in unspent General Fund dollars from 2012 into the state’s School Aid Fund to offset cuts to education funding. Over the past two years, almost $2 billion has been diverted from school funding to pay for massive tax breaks that were supposed to spur job creation but haven’t created any jobs.

“Right now, the Republicans in Lansing are using our public school funds to give tax breaks to big corporations, none of which benefit the Upper Peninsula,” said Dianda. “Having our kids in overcrowded classrooms with out-of-date textbooks is unacceptable and is robbing our kids of a necessary competitive advantage in today’s job market.”

Since 2011, the Republicans’ massive school funding cuts have led to school building closures, thousands of teacher layoffs and overcrowded classrooms. In some places, busing has been curtailed to make up for the lost funds, while in other districts, teachers pay for school toilet paper out of their own pockets. The defunding of K-12 education leaves too many of Michigan’s children unready to enter college or start careers after graduation, and makes Michigan a less competitive state to attract new business.

“This money needs to go toward patching the massive hole the Republicans blew in the public school ship by diverting nearly $2 billion away from education,” continued Dianda. “Under the current leadership, our schools are underfunded and unappreciated. We must fully fund our kids’ futures before it’s too late.”