I apologize for the lack of new posts this past week. My family is dealing with an ongoing medical crisis with my father and I have not had time to write. Regular posting will resume when the crisis is resolved.
Last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder unveiled his new budget. According to his spin on the budget, per-pupil funding will be increased by $75 per student. At the time, Democratic Representative Brandon Dillon noted that this so-called “increase” would be more than offset by cuts to schools in other areas:
While questioning State Budget Director John Roberts, Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, noted that the budget includes a decrease in the amount of performance-based funding available for districts. While some school districts will see an increase in funding, there are districts out there that will see a loss of state funding, Dillon said.
“Those increases may be eaten up … by the decreases in the performance funding,” he said. Dillon added, “That seems to me that it might not add up for most districts.”
Now we get a more thorough breakdown of just how much of a lie this claim of increased funding is. David Britten, superintendent of the Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, published his analysis in a piece titled “Setting the record straight on the Governor’s “huge” K-12 funding increase” (emphasis mine):
[I]t’s not a $75 per-pupil increase.
At the same time the Governor was selling this as an actual increase in K-12 funding, he decided to eliminate the one-time “reward” funding for academic performance and reduce the so-called “best practice” revenue (although no evidence exists that these were ever actually best practices) by sixty percent. Interestingly, the Governor and legislative leaders in the last two sessions touted their idea of providing one-time funding schemes like these instead of foundation increases. They equated these to corporate reward systems for motivating successful efforts whereas foundation increases, according to their unsubstantiated claims, simply lead only to waste. Of course the irony here is the fact that the Governor paid over $20,000 per year to educated each of his children at some swanky private school. Was $13,000 of that simply wasted? I don’t think he believes that.
Anyway, after the shell game, in terms of dollars to our district this is actually a deduction of $60 per pupil leaving a paltry $15 increase, or a total of only $29,235 in new funding.
But wait a minute, because the story doesn’t end here.
The state-created, and state mismanaged teacher retirement system will soak up another 2.8% of total payroll costs this year, and because staffing costs are the most significant part of our district’s budget, that will amount to an increased cost of approximately $144 per pupil. Now, our $15 in new funding is actually $129 in decreased funding.
Mr. Britten goes on to say that none of this takes into account the impact of inflation or the increased costs associated with implementing the new Common Core standards. And, as he says, even if the $75 “increase” were real, it still only takes us to $2 more than the funding levels in place in the 2008-09 school year – six years ago.
Once again Gov. Snyder is looking at Michigan taxpayers and boldly lying to them about education funding. He did this during his reelection campaign and the obfuscation continues now that he has safely been reelected. It’s hard to support increasing taxes on ourselves when our own governor can’t even be straight with us.
The Michigan saga continues…