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State education and school aid budget, and revenue sources for schools

School aid budget in pictures

What they're looking at in the smoke filled rooms

Now that the state's top economists have painted a somewhat less flush picture for next year, Legislative leaders are sitting down and hammering out final budget numbers. You won't get to watch - this is all happening in the proverbial "smoke-filled rooms" where the key players wheel and deal. So what are we likely to get? Our earlier articles outline the Governor's proposed school aid budget, and each house passed their own version. On the surface, the Governor's appeared to be the least generous, while the Senate trumpeted per pupil increases of up to $300 per pupil. But is everything as it seems? The fact that all three proposals spend nearly identical amounts of money should be our clue that the devil is in the details.

In our presentation on school funding to the State Board of Education (see upcoming article), we argued that legitimate school funding models would need to:

  • be fair, or equitable, to all participants (though that doesn't necessarily mean equal),
  • provide adequate resources for schools to do what we ask of them, and
  • put resources where they were most needed.

How do the budget proposals do on these scores? Not so well. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Budget brief: Waiting for CREC

The state's top economists will present their unified projections for state tax revenue tomorrow. This is the number which the legislature must use to create a balanced budget that meets the requirements of our state constitution.

However, over the last two days, the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies - nonpartisan staff working for the Legislature, who comprise two of the three agencies meeting tomorrow - have each released their projections for tax revenue for the current year (ending in September) and the next fiscal year (October 2014 - September 2015).

The future is looking less rosy.

First look: Snyder election year budget

At first glance, there are a number of things to like about Gov. Snyder's budget proposal in this election year - which is hardly surprising, since he launched his reelection campaign at the same time he released his budget. Several of those things even stand up to closer scrutiny. But all this is against a background of real austerity in K-12 education, so that the executive budget proposal is a bit like having the vise around your head loosened after a long period of tightening: it's a relief, but you are still in the vise.

Highlights

  • Districts will get a per-pupil increase between $83 and $111 per pupil, but this still lags inflation.
  • Most of that increase is made possible by the fact that there are fewer students in Michigan schools this year than originally expected, and the same applies next year.
  • The biggest increases are in the payments for unfunded liability of the state pension system.
  • Per-pupil funding left after pension payments are covered has fallen 22% over the last 12 years, after inflation.
  • Economic recovery is bringing a modest increase in revenues earmarked for the School Aid Fund, but no new revenue sources are being made available to schools.
  • Even though the state's General Fund is projected to have a much larger increase in revenue, the School Aid Fund continues to pay for some $400 million in higher education costs that used to be covered entirely by the General Fund.
Departments: 

Who has "fact issues"?

Budget update: Legislature tosses schools a small bone

Special sections: 

What's up with road funding and schools?

Why will funding roads take money from schools?
So, what's up with roads and schools?
 
Dear Friends,

First off, let me thank the hundreds of you who have already contacted your State Representatives about road funding and the threat to our schools. Your message is important and is getting through.

Many people have asked for a bit more information about this whole deal - and I certainly understand, because it's somewhat complicated. I'm reprinting our earlier action alert below, but let me sketch out what is happening on this issue:

School Aid budgets: no good news

Budgets as they emerged from each chamber are a mixed bag for schools

Both houses of the State Legislature passed their own versions of the K-12 School Aid budget this past week, and the political horse-trading can now begin. While the versions are quite similar, there are important differences that will affect how schools are funded and how much Michigan is able to expand its preschool programs targeted to low-income families. The total amount of proposed spending, however, does not exceed the Gov. Snyder's proposal, and in fact the Senate version comes in some $10 million lower than that.

Both versions of the budgets also include items that worry many supporters of local public education. Provisions requiring districts to permit and pay for students to take online courses from nearly any vendor are reminiscent of "Oxford report" proposals to "unbundle" public education, making local districts a thing of the past. Money earmarked for technology-driven student-centered instruction is seen as a "gift" to the financially troubled and controversial Education Achievement Authority, which the governor and legislative leaders hope to build into a state authority to take over "failing" schools.

As things stand, local school districts can expect a net cut of between $2 and $52 per pupil, though the details vary considerably. Final versions of the budget will not be ready until after the May consensus revenue estimation conference, when top state economists make tax revenue projections for the coming year.

Action alert: More games with the school budget

Time to stop playing games with school funding - budget options range from bad to worse


Let's play

Fibbing or Funding

The only game show where your school always gets less than your children deserve!

Click here to read more >>>?

Newsbrief: EAA passes House; school aid budget moves

MIPFS Legislative Update: Budget, EAA and Oxford Report

Time to move in a new direction

Dear Friends,

After a welcome break over the holidays, our Legislature is back at work. Unfortunately, these days, that's not a good thing.

In this issue:
  • School Aid Budget - Magical numbers from the CPA-in-chief
  • EAA - We know how to turn schools around. Trust us.
  • A la carte school funding proposal not so popular on the menu
  • A parents' vision for public education

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