LANSING – State Representatives Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge) and Tom Cochran (D-Mason) 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 haven’t created any jobs.

“This money needs to go to our schools and our students to undo the harm that diverting education funding has done over the past two years,” said Abed, who was a school social worker for more than 30 years and is a member of the House Committee on Education. “Crowded classrooms, not enough textbooks to go around and a lack of basic supplies will not help our children reach their full potential and learn what they need to have successful careers. Putting this money back into our schools is an investment in our kids and Michigan’s future.”

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.

“I join with my colleague, Representative Abed, and demand that Governor Snyder restore funding to our public schools,” said Cochran, a former member of the Mason School Board. “Businesses are looking for well-educated workers. Investing in our kids and our schools is an investment in our future that will pay dividends. This is a welcome opportunity to ensure that our state has the entrepreneurs and workers we need to be a leader in the 21st century economy.”