LANSING – State Representative Adam F. Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) and House Democrats offered amendments to the School Aid budget today, while it was being reviewed in an appropriations subcommittee, to fix a number of problems caused by Republican leadership. House Republicans removed a number of investments that would improve Michigan schools, deviating from the governor’s executive recommendation.
Cuts included removing $100 million to at-risk student funding and nearly $25 million for 3rd-grade reading proficiency. Both were investments to target resources to the students who need them the most. House Republicans also added $5 million in funding to nonpublic schools, raising concerns that this is a thinly-veiled shift towards vouchers.
“Sending $5 million to nonpublic schools to cover the cost of certain mandated activities is a pathway to vouchers, and Michigan voters have turned vouchers down several times at the ballot box already,” said Zemke. “This budget was rushed through without a chance to discuss major changes in how we fund education and help at-risk students. This is not the way to make sound education policy that will truly help all Michigan students succeed.”
House Democrats offered eight amendments during committee:
Restore Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS) offset funding to $100 million
Restore the governor’s recommendation for $100 million to at-risk student funding
Require financial audits of a district’s educational management organization
Eliminate funding for nonpublic school reimbursements
Restore adult education funding to $22 million (Zemke)
Restore math & science centers and STEM partnership funding state funding to $3.2 million (Zemke)
Restore the governor’s recommendation for funding toward 3rd-grade reading proficiency (Zemke)
Restore bilingual education to $1.2 million (Zemke)
Rep. Zemke offered amendments he felt were critical to helping Michigan students succeed in a 21st century economy. He was deeply troubled by the removal of quality investments while misplacing funds with nonpublic schools.
“Removing at-risk funding, statewide STEM education grants and early literacy support will prove harmful to Michigan’s children,” Zemke said. “These strategic investments would help every Michigan student to succeed and prepare them for the jobs of the future. Instead, this budget creates a pathway to vouchers that we cannot support.”