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.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

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 Reported Essay Are We Asking Schools to Do Too Much?
Schools are increasingly being saddled with new responsibilities. At what point do we decide they are being overwhelmed?
5 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Education Funding Interactive Look Up How Much COVID Relief Aid Your School District is Getting
The federal government gave schools more than $190 billion to help them recover from the pandemic. But the money was not distributed evenly.
2 min read
Education Funding Explainer Everything You Need to Know About Schools and COVID Relief Funds
How much did your district get in pandemic emergency aid? When must the money be spent? Is there more on the way? EdWeek has the answers.
11 min read
090221 Stimulus Masks AP BS
Dezirae Espinoza wears a face mask while holding a tube of cleaning wipes as she waits to enter Garden Place Elementary School in Denver for the first day of in-class learning since the start of the pandemic.
David Zalubowski/AP
Education Funding Why Dems' $82 Billion Proposal for School Buildings Still Isn't Enough
Two new reports highlight the severe disrepair the nation's school infrastructure is in and the crushing district debt the lack of federal and state investment has caused.
4 min read
Founded 55 years ago, Foust Elementary received its latest update 12-25 years ago for their HVAC units. If the school receives funds from the Guilford County Schools bond allocation, they will expand classrooms from the back of the building.
Community members in Guilford, N.C. last week protested the lack of new funding to improve the district's crumbling school facilities.
Abby Gibbs/News & Record via AP