I had a conversation with Ann Arbor-area state Representative Jeff Irwin recently and he brought up a point few people are discussing related to higher education. There’s been a lot of focus on how much money is in Gov. Snyder’s budget for education and Gov. Snyder wants everyone to believe that he has put MORE money into his education budget than his predecessor. There’s a tiny bit of room for debate if you completely ignore the impact of inflation and the fact that his increased spending has been largely to make sure teachers’ retirement pensions are stable.
But that’s not what Irwin was talking about. He was talking about the School Aid Fund which funds K-12 classroom education. The School Aid Fund receives most of its money through various taxes and, when Gov. Snyder slashed taxes on businesses to the tune of $1.6 billion a year back in 2011, along with that cut came a huge hole in the School Aid Fund. How much of a hole?
Over $600,000,000 a year.
But, wait! There’s more! Gov. Snyder also took the unprecedented step of diverting a portion of the School Aid Fund to pay partially offset huge cuts he had made to higher education which he claims to value so much. Before Rick Snyder came into office, this had never happened before. How much of a hit did the School Aid Fund take from this diversion of money to higher ed?
$400,000,000 a year.
So, let’s do the math here:
Yup, that’s a billion dollars, kids. Actually it’s a bit more because the hit the Student Aid Fund took from the business tax cut is MORE than $600,000,000.
And that’s not $1,000,000,000.00+ since Gov. Snyder took office. That’s $1,000,000,000.00+ EVERY YEAR.
So, the next time you hear Gov. Snyder go on and on about how his budget has more money in it for education, know this: he’s lying like a Republican corporatist rug. He is sucking a billion dollars a year out of our classrooms, diverting that money to his business pals, and lying to your face about it.
You know what the worst part is? IT’S NOT WORKING. Michigan still has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country and, in August, lost the most jobs of any state in the country. It might be a little more palatable to see our children being robbed to pay for business tax giveaways if it were actually making things better. But it’s not.
For more on the diversion of money out of the School Aid Fund, listen to this remarkable report from Lester Graham at Michigan Radio. It’s superb:
If the audio player doesn’t display or work properly, click HERE.
Oh, and one more thing. As Democratic House member Brandon Dillon points out, Gov. Snyder has already admitted that he took money out of the classroom. Check out the video he shares in this tweet:
— Brandon Dillon (@BrandonDillon75) October 24, 2014