“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget and I will tell you what you value.” – Joe Biden
Michigan Republicans put forth their proposed education budget yesterday and, as you would expect, it shows just how little the value education in our state. After slashing education funding for years, they are back this year with a paltry 1.6% increase. Even Gov. Snyder’s budget almost hit 2%. And it’s not just the tiny increase that is the biggest slap in the face to those who value the education of our children and see it as an investment in our state’s future. The things they chose to cut and the things they chose to spend more on complete the picture and give you the distinct impression that Republicans want a workforce that has just the barest amount of education to serve our food, to clean our homes, and to push the buttons that run the machines that make the widgets that create wealth for the owners of the corporations they work for.
Here are some of the “highlights” in terms of cuts to education:
- Eliminates the program to incentivize “best practices”, which cuts $75 million.
- Eliminates technology infrastructure grants – a $41.5 million cut.
- Cut $50 million from the Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MSPERS) fund which reimburses local school districts a share of their contribution.
- Eliminates the Distressed District Rehabilitation fund which is “intended to support the rehabilitation of districts experiencing severe academic and financial stress in order to mitigate the impact on student learning” – $4 million cut.
- Eliminates the Dissolved District Transition Grants designed to assist districts that absorbed students from the dissolved Buena Vista and Inkster school districts – a $2.2 million cut.
- Eliminates state funding for math and science centers and the Michigan STEM Partnership (STEM = science, technology, math, and engineering) saving $3,225,000.
- Completely eliminates state funding – $22 million – for adult education.
Here are some of the things proposed by Gov. Snyder that the House Republicans chose not to provide funding for:
- Rejected Gov. Snyder’s proposed spending $1 million for gang prevention and intervention programs and $18.4 million for early literacy programs.
- Do not fund a career & technical education dual enrollment program to allow students to finish an associates’ degree, finish technical certification, or earn college credits while still in high school. Gov. Snyder proposed $17.8 million for this program.
- Chose not to include $3.6 million in spending proposed by Gov. Snyder for career and college readiness tools to help high school student learn about college and career options so they can make informed decisions.
They did, however, increase funding for “nonpublic schools” by $5 million.
Democrats tried in vain to get eight amendments passed by the House Appropriations K-12 School Aid Subcommittee:
- Restore Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS) offset funding to $100 million.
- Restore the governor’s recommendation for $100 million to at-risk student funding.
- Require financial audits of a district’s educational management organization
- Eliminate funding for nonpublic school reimbursements
- Restore adult education funding to $22 million
- Restore math & science centers and STEM partnership funding state funding to $3.2 million
- Restore the governor’s recommendation for funding toward 3rd-grade reading proficiency
- Restore bilingual education to $1.2 million
None of the amendments were accepted.
The last four of the amendments were offered by the leading Democrat on the Education Committee, Adam Zemke. He had this to say about the Republican budget:
Sending $5 million to nonpublic schools to cover the cost of certain mandated activities is a pathway to vouchers, and Michigan voters have turned vouchers down several times at the ballot box already. This budget was rushed through without a chance to discuss major changes in how we fund education and help at-risk students. This is not the way to make sound education policy that will truly help all Michigan students succeed.
Removing at-risk funding, statewide STEM education grants, and early literacy support will prove harmful to Michigan’s children. These strategic investments would help every Michigan student to succeed and prepare them for the jobs of the future. Instead, this budget creates a pathway to vouchers that we cannot support.
Joe Biden has it just right: “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget and I will tell you what you value.” With this budget, Michigan Republicans have shown us just what they think about education in our state.
The answer is, of course: not much.