State Representative Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) 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.

“We are transitioning into a knowledge-based economy, and our children cannot fall behind because Republicans would prefer to line the pockets of their already wealthy friends instead of funding our public schools,” said Yanez.

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.

“The attacks on our public schools need to end right now,” Yanez said. “The jobs that will make Michigan a leader in innovation once again require a good education. We owe it to our kids to put them in a position to compete for those jobs with students from other states.”