Michigan House Approves Budget Stripping Common Core Funds

By Andrew Ujifusa — April 25, 2013 2 min read
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The Michigan House of Representatives has approved a budget that would prohibit any general funds from being spent to implement the Common Core State Standards or the Smarter Balanced assessments based on the standards. The House approved the budget language on April 24.

The budget now moves to the Michigan Senate for consideration. (The GOP controls both chambers in the legislature.)

This means that Michigan has moved further along to blocking the common core than Alabama, which dumped a bill to block the standards earlier this week. The push against the common core this year in the Great Lakes State began with House Bill 4276, introduced by Rep. Tom McMillin, a Republican. That proposed legislation is pretty straightfoward: It would prohibit the common core from being implemented in the state. As you can see from bill-tracking services, the bill itself hasn’t moved very far along in the legislative process. But this general effort, at least, transitioned successfully to the budget.

You can read the specific language at the bottom of page 184 of the budget legislation where it reads: “Funds appropriated in part 1 shall not be used to fund the Common Core State Standards Initiative or Smarter Balanced assessments. Funds shall not be used to implement programs or student assessments created by the Common Core State Standards Initiative or Smarter Balanced assessments.”

Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, has previously expressed support for the common core. In a 2011 letter to the legislature on “education reform,” for example, Snyder wrote about higher education: “I challenge these institutions to transform their teacher education programs to deliver the skills teachers need to succeed in the classroom, including ensuring teachers can teach the national Common Core College and Career-Readiness Standards, now embraced by Michigan and almost all states.”

However, in an April 18 article for the Center for Michigan (a public policy group in the state), Chris Andrews described Snyder’s position on anti-common-core legislation this way: “Gov. Rick Snyder is reviewing the bills and hasn’t taken a position, spokesman Ken Silfven said via email.”

Note that among common core supporters in the state are Michigan Board of Education President John Austin and Superintendent Mike Flanagan, who was just appointed by Snyder to lead a public work group on education policy changes after a more secretive group operating in connection with Snyder was profiled in the press.

Michigan law states that Snyder does have line-item veto power when it comes to budget approval. At the same time, while the language on the state website says he has this veto authority over specific appropriations, it doesn’t make clear whether he could strike out a prohibition on a specific appropriation. I’ve called the Michigan Budget Office to clear up whether Snyder could, in fact, simply strike this prohibition out of any budget sent to him from state lawmakers.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.