Republican Governor Rick Snyder is spending an enormous amount of effort trying to convince Michigan residents that he has increased school funding. In reality, it’s true. The state of Michigan is spending a bit more now than when Snyder took office. But that’s only because he includes temporary federal funding as part of the Stimulus spending legislation sent to states to cushion the blow of the Bush Recession as the starting point, funding no longer available. Overall, schools are funded at a lower rate than in the past.
Funny thing: Michiganders know it.
An new Inside Michigan Politics/Lambert, Edwards & Associates/Denno Research poll shows that over half of Michiganders believe that Governor Snyder has decreased spending on schools. In fact, nearly three times as many people believe this.
The poll asked the question, “In the three years that Governor Rick Snyder has been in office, do you think he overall has increased or decreased spending for K-12 schools?” 53.8% responded “decreased” versus only 18% who said “increased”. A significant 69% of respondents who said Snyder has decreased education spending were between the ages 35 and 64, the general age range of voters with children.
“The issue comes down to whether people believe money is getting into the classroom. And this poll indicates parents of school-aged children don’t believe Gov. Snyder’s narrative that schools are seeing more money,” said Susan J. Demas, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. “Republicans have clearly done their own polling on this issue and realize it’s a weakness in the election. That’s why they’re looking to up education spending in this year’s budget.”
One only needs to look at the intense controversy regarding expanding the Education Achievement Authority to see that education is a top priority in Michigan right now. Governor Snyder is desperately trying to improve his image on education and these poll results suggest that, at least so far, his approach is not working. Perhaps that’s because nearly all of us know that our local school district is hurting financially, despite claims by Governor Snyder that everything is just fine. Sometimes local realities trump political niceties.
These results make it clear that education is a winning issue for Democrats. They have legislation in place to counter the failures of the current approach which data shows is clearly not working. Governor Snyder has multiple school districts in financial emergencies. If education is at all important to Michigan voters, Snyder is in deep trouble. The question remaining is if his last minute interest in funding education will be enough to change such a lopsided public opinion deficit.