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Local Democrats Slam House Republican Education Funding Bill

Representatives say the state should restore nearly $1 billion cut last year from K-12 funding.

A group of Michigan House Democrats gathered in Southfield this morning to level charges that Republican lawmakers and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder are leaving school children behind when it comes to funding education. 

During a press conference held at University Academy, a school for gifted and talented students on the Southfield High campus, lawmakers said the proposed budget continues a $470 per pupil funding cut currently in place. What's more, they said, the omnibus legislation lacks transparency and makes it more difficult for citizens to see exactly how tax dollars are being allocated. 

State Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods), who is minority vice chair with appropriations subcommittees on school aid and community colleges, said Republicans voted against multiple amendments that Democrats offered to restore school funding. 

"I think that it's an understatement to say that those of us that are here, and all of you, and parents all across the state are really in a state of outrage over what has happened over the past two years," she said.

The Republican-proposed budget puts Michigan's education funding below 2006 levels, State Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) said. Even though financial incentives are proposed for districts that meet certain "best practices" bench marks, those dollars also come out of state funding that is meant for all K-12 schools, she added. 

According to Cogen Lipton, Republican lawmakers have said they created the list of best practices themselves, and Brown pointed out the benchmarks have more to do with budget and school management. "You really don't see students in the list of best practices," she said. 

State Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D-Lathrup Village) pointed to the fightschoolcuts.com website as a place where citizens can go to get information about school funding and how to get involved. The interactive website offers a search feature that shows how much funding individual school districts stand to lose, based on House Fiscal Agency estimates, under the proposed Republican budget. 

Lawmakers said the omnibus education budget is currently in conference committee, so citizens still have time to contact their lawmakers about it. 

This is a developing story.

DCC May 12, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Terry has trouble with the truth. "Your president promised to give away money like it grew on trees when he ran for office..........and he has proceeded to do just that in every manner possible." Really? President Obama "promised" that? Terry must have blown a few brain cells: the candidate promising to "give away money" was Governor George W. Bush, who opposed conserving money from budget surpluses, like Vice-President Gore proposed, (Remember the "lock box" debate?) "You don't need a rainy day fund if you have a balanced budget." Terry's financial planning incompetence is breath-taking. Think of it for just a second, and I don't have to enumerate just how nutty an idea this is. "Auto company bailouts, bank bailouts, raising the national debt limit.............. Compared to the Democrats, the Republicans make Scrooge look like a spendthrift." Terry conveniently misrepresents the bank bailout as a Democratic initiative, when it was done while Bush was in office. Raising the national debt limit? Bush - Remember, Terry is responding to the point that the "Republican administration under Engler at the state level spent the rainy day fund on a tax decrease thereby leaving future administrations without a safety net". I do hope Terry isn't going to be one of Snyder's Emergency Financial Dictators.
Bryce May 12, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Please explain why you consider the lowering of taxes to be money "spent". I don't recall getting a check from the State of Michigan.
ConcernedParent May 13, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Clearly you are an expert on school funding. In over 10 years, the foundation grant for Northville schools has remained at around $8,000. That is NOT adjusted for inflation. Do you imagine that costs have remained the same over that period? Advancing technology requirements alone make this unreasonable. Class size is in the 30s and 40s for elementary and middle school students. The district has made $9 million dollars of extremely painful savings over the last 3 years. We have lost 26 teachers, our bus drivers, our loyal janitorial staff. It is not 'fiscal responsibility' to destroy our schools which are the foundation of our community. The School Aid fund was voted in to support our schools. The simple fact is that fund had a surplus, but it was stolen and used for other things. Don't listen to the rhetoric -- anyone who has any involvement in the K-12 system now will give you the real facts. These cuts are not sustainable without serious and permanent damage to our children's education and our communities.
DCC May 14, 2012 at 12:58 AM
*Heavy sigh* Bryce, Bryce, Bryce. Can't you get the picture? Allow me to spell it out for you: from Merriam-Webster: "Spent - a : used up : consumed b : exhausted of active or required components or qualities often for a particular purpose Synonyms (you know, words that have the same meaning) include burned-out (or burnt-out), drained, exhausted, fatigued, tapped out, wiped out." So, "Republican administration under Engler at the state level spent the rainy day fund on a tax decrease thereby leaving future administrations without a safety net." is an appropriate use of the word, wherein the rainy day fund was indeed spent, exhausted, wiped out by action of Engler with the purpose of using that money to cover on-going expenses and thereby give the impression that the state's current and future operation would not be negatively impacted by reducing a tax. Next time, try focusing on the real issue instead of semantics; as you should know, you'll get a better picture.
DCC May 15, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Really Terry? You cite an average as counter to Reagan - the largest number of debt ceiling increases; Bush II - near doubling of the debt limit? That's rather lame.

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