Michigan Republicans celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week by voting to strip more school funding

Make yourself heard


Schoolkids photo by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog

As I reported yesterday, the Michigan House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure voted to eliminate the sales tax on aviation fuel. This bill is in addition to House Bill 4539 which if passed, will eliminate the sales tax on gasoline sales in our state. My piece said that this would take $770.1 million out of the School Aid Fund (SAF). However, that amount is only for the repeal of the gasoline tax. According to a statement by State Rep. Brandon Dillon, yesterday’s repeal of the aviation fuel tax will remove another $55 million . That means if both bills are passed, $825.1 million more will be taken from our kids’ schools. This represents over two-thirds of the $1.2 billion Governor Snyder has asked for for road repair.

Here’s Rep. Dillon’s statement:

I support growing Michigan’s transportation industry, but we can’t do that at the expense of our kids, who represent our state’s future. To give big corporations such as major airlines a tax break when our schools are running on empty is irresponsible. It tells our kids that we care more about airlines than we do about them.

The bills that would change the way aviation fuel is taxed are House Bills 4571 and 4572. HB 4571 would increase the aviation fuel tax on the basis of its wholesale price. HB 4572 would then exempt aviation fuel from the state’s 6 percent sales tax. Republicans who support the bill say that the School Aid Fund would take a $55 million hit if the bill is passed. The two bills were reported out of the House Transportation Committee today without any solution to ‘fix’ the school funding shortfall Republicans created with these bills. A third bill, HB 4677, which could have replaced the School Aid Funds, wasn’t voted on by the committee and isn’t connected to the other two bills.

Our schools simply can’t absorb another funding cut. It’s wrong to punish kids who are already crammed like travelers in coach class in overcrowded classrooms that don’t have enough textbooks to go around while giving major corporations a tax break at the fuel pump.

Republicans are suggesting that they will fill this nearly $1 billion hole by asking Michigan voters to raise taxes on themselves by voting for a 1% increase in the sales tax. Given that this requires super majority votes (two-thirds) in both the House and the Senate as well a passage by the voters of Michigan at the next election, that is hardly a guarantee. It amounts to a hostage situation where the Republicans are holding our schools, kids and teachers hostage and the ransom is raising taxes on ourselves so that they don’t have to take credit for any further tax hikes in this state.

Last night on the Night Shift with Tony Trupiano Show, Tony asked me what can be done about this. I told him that we need to take a page out of the Tea Party book and start making calls, sending emails and knocking on the doors of our State Representatives and Senators to let them know that we will not settle for paying for the repair of our roads on the backs of our schools, our kids and our teachers. We all agree that our roads are a complete disaster. Nearly a decade of recession in Michigan has left our critical infrastructure in a shambles. But let’s do so honestly. If they want to raise our taxes to pay for road repair, so be it. Raise taxes. But do it honestly and do it in broad daylight so that we know what we’re voting for and we aren’t doing it under the threat of eliminating vital funding to our kids’ schools.

Here’s the audio from last night’s interview:

So, make yourself heard on this. Call your State Representatives and Senators and tell them to vote no on House Bills 4539 and 4572 and to fund road repair in an honest way. Here are some ways you can reach out to lawmakers:

  1. Click HERE to go to a page with contact information for your legislators. MAKE THE CALL!
  2. Click HERE to send a message to your legislator via the Michigan Parents for Schools website
  3. Click HERE to send a message via the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education

Oh, and one more thing: wouldn’t it be nice if our mainstream media journalists were asking Republicans tough questions about this plan to defund schools??? Neither the Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press even reported on yesterday’s vote.

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