Special Report
Education Funding

Mich. House Taps 2010 Stimulus Funding for Schools

By The Associated Press — November 05, 2009 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Michigan House voted Thursday to tap federal stimulus money set aside for next year to soften a cut in school funding now, but it’s unlikely the move is going to win the support of the state Senate.

By a mostly party-line vote of 74-29, a majority of House members said the $184 million should be used to help schools avoid all but $10 of a $127-per-student cut Granholm ordered last month.

Schools still would see their funding drop by the equivalent of $165 per student. That was the decrease lawmakers passed in the school aid budget for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.

The bill also would give back half of the nearly $52 million Granholm vetoed from 39 of the state’s wealthier districts and spend an equal amount on school districts at the lower end of the scale. House Democrats say they’d pay for this with a mix of tax and fee hikes that have yet to pass the House and are unlikely to pass the Senate.

School districts shouldn’t count on getting any of the money back just yet, given the reaction of Republicans who control the Senate. Granholm said Thursday she would sign the bill if it got to her desk, but she’d prefer a longer-term option.

Highlights of what the bill will do:

•Restore all but $10 of a $127-per-student cut ordered last month by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The money would come from tapping $184 million in federal stimulus funds that were to be saved until next year. Schools still would face the equivalent of a $165-per-student cut.

•Give 39 wealthier school districts back half of the nearly $52 million Granholm vetoed while giving those at the low end of the scale $27.5 million to make school payments more equitable. The bill doesn’t contain a way to pay for this.

•Require that the school aid budget be passed by June 1 each year, in line with when school district fiscal years begin.

•Restore school bus inspections with $800,000 from the general fund.

•Restore some money for early childhood programs.

Source: The Associated Press

“Using Recovery Act dollars merely kicks the can down the road and creates a bigger problem for the school aid fund next year,” Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said.

The Democratic governor has urged lawmakers to restore the $127 per student by raising taxes on tobacco products other than cigarettes, reducing certain business tax breaks and eliminating an inflationary increase in the state income tax personal exemption.

A Senate Republican spokesman said the House should tap $100 million saved by freezing a tax credit for low-income workers rather than the stimulus money. A bill to do that has passed the Senate but has not been taken up by the House, in part because the bill is tied to one that would begin rolling back a business tax surcharge this year.

The House is “trying to take $184 million in federal stimulus money that we’ve all agreed that we’re going to need to not run off a cliff in the next fiscal year ... and ignoring $100 million in revenue that’s sitting there available for use,” said Matt Marsden, spokesman for GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop of Rochester.

Granholm opposes giving businesses a tax break if it relies on freezing workers’ tax credits, even if it means more money for schools.

The governor said she cut $127 per student because state revenues are falling, creating a $212 million hole, and she doesn’t want to wait until a revenue estimating conference in January to adjust school aid payments.

Republicans dispute that the school aid budget is in the red and say any shortfall can be addressed with the extra $100 million they’ve suggested.

School districts have said that, regardless of the size of the cut, they’ll to have to slash staff and services halfway through the school year to make ends meet. Brad Biladeau of the Michigan Association of School Administrators said lawmakers aren’t living up to their vow to support public education.

“This is just more political posturing, and it’s predicated on more promises,” he said. “While it moves the ball down the road, it will by no means get us across the finish line.”

Lawmakers voting against using the stimulus money said the state was wrong to solve its current budget problems with money it should be saving for next year, when schools are likely facing cuts of $300 to $400 per student even if the $184 million in federal stimulus funds is still available.

“We’re creating false hopes out there,” said Rep. David Hildenbrand, R-Lowell.

Supporters, however, said school districts simply couldn’t cope this year with cuts ranging from nearly $300 per student for all school districts to more than $600 for the 39 losing the extra funding.

“Investing in our children is the best decision we can make right now,” said Rep. Terry Brown, D-Pigeon, who oversees the public schools appropriations subcommittee. “With tough economic times ahead, we must do all we can to protect their future and find ways to avoid even deeper cuts to funding next year.”

Related Tags:

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding What New School Spending Data Show About a Coming Fiscal Cliff
New data show just what COVID-relief funds did to overall school spending—and the size of the hole they might leave in school budgets.
4 min read
Photo illustration of school building and piggy bank.
F. Sheehan for Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus
Education Funding When There's More Money for Schools, Is There an 'Objective' Way to Hand It Out?
A fight over the school funding formula in Mississippi is kicking up old debates over how to best target aid.
7 min read
Illustration of many roads and road signs going in different directions with falling money all around.
iStock/Getty
Education Funding Explainer How Can Districts Get More Time to Spend ESSER Dollars? An Explainer
Districts can get up to 14 additional months to spend ESSER dollars on contracts—if their state and the federal government both approve.
4 min read
Illustration of woman turning back hands on clock.
Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus Week
Education Funding Education Dept. Sees Small Cut in Funding Package That Averted Government Shutdown
The Education Department will see a reduction even as the funding package provides for small increases to key K-12 programs.
3 min read
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about healthcare at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26, 2024.
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about health care at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26. Biden signed a funding package into law over the weekend that keeps the federal government open through September but includes a slight decrease in the Education Department's budget.
Matt Kelley/AP