LANSING — State Representative Charlie Smiley (D-Burton) 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.

“In previous budgets, Republicans have favored corporations over kids,” Smiley said. “If they really want to grow Michigan’s economy, we need to create a talented workforce by giving children the skills they need to compete for jobs.”

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 Michigan’s children unready to enter college or start careers after graduation, and makes Michigan a less competitive state to attract new business.

“We cannot expect to attract business and families with failing schools,” Smiley said. “Fully investing in education is the way to position Michigan to prosper in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.”