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State budget & taxes

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

Senate acts on teacher retirement benefits

*The Republican majority in the Senate passed changes in the state teacher retirement system today, the first plank of their "reform" platform to emerge from the chamber.* Senate Republicans have insisted on significant changes in public expenses, many of which focus on public school teacher retirement and health benefits, as the price of allowing (and implicitly supporting) a vote to increase taxes for the next fiscal year (see related story). The measures, "SB 546":http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2007-SB-0546 and "SB 547":http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2007-SB-0547, would increase employee contributions into the pension system, require retirees to pay a portion of their health benefits, and tighten eligibility for full retirement benefits. The measures passed on party-line votes.

Budget deal saves schools - for now

Late Friday, Michigan's top lawmakers hammered out a deal which both prevents last-minute cuts to schools and closes the current year's deficit without a tax increase, but at a cost. Most of the cuts from the regular state budget went to fund increases for health care and prison beds, both of which are projected to increase because of the poor economy. To fill the overall gap, the Legislature intends to sell rights to some future tobacco settlement fund revenues ("securitize" these revenues), among other things. Closing the current year's deficit without a tax increase is evidently part of an agreement with Senate Republicans not to block a vote on an income tax increase for fiscal 2008.

Open Letter to House Speaker Dillon and Senate Majority Leader Bishop

Dear Speaker Dillon and Senator Bishop, On behalf of Michigan Parents for Schools, including parents and concerned citizens across the state, I ask you to do your utmost to craft a budget agreement which invests in our public schools rather than pulling the props out from under them at this critical time.

Revenue Conference: School aid deficit $150 million larger than predicted

Much as the Hubble Telescope expanded the known universe, the May revenue estimation conference expanded the "known deficit" for Michigan government and schools. Top state economists agreed that revenues earmarked for school aid for the current year (2006-7) will be $153 million lower than estimated in January - or about $560 million less than originally budgeted for school aid last year.

Alert! School funding crisis needs solution now!

Take action now!

Make your voices heard! The school funding situation is at a critical juncture. State officials have just finished their review of expected tax collections. They found that revenues earmarked for schools will come in even lower than expected in January -- $153 million lower than the earlier estimates that were already revised downward. That means a total shortfall of as much as $560 million for this year and cuts to districts of $116 per pupil right at the end of the year unless new money is found.

Senate pushes through budget plan after negotiations fail

The state Senate approved a Republican plan to balance the current fiscal year's budget along party lines last night after negotiations on a compromise proposal broke down. The measures include cuts to schools of $36 per pupil, transfers from restricted funds, and pushing some expenses into next year. Senate Republican leaders wanted to pass a plan to close the current year deficit without increased taxes, while Gov. Jennifer Granholm and House Democratic leaders wanted new revenues to be part of the package to help with both this year and next.

News Analysis: Looking for Cover

The recent fuss in the Legislature with budget agreements that weren't and battling press releases has made it fairly clear that the Republican majority in the Senate is looking for cover on increasing taxes, but Democratic lawmakers are reluctant to give it to them.

Legislative Wonderland

The lengths that some lawmakers will go to avoid dealing with the reality of the state's budget situation was on display today in Lansing. With this week's conference of state economists expected to find that the budget deficit has grown significantly since January, some lawmakers were touting budget solutions that relied on the lower, outdated, figures. Late this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) issued a press release announcing that an agreement had been reached on the state's budget deficit, one that did not require new taxes. Sen.

Clock starts ticking on School Aid cuts

Gov. Granholm made it official - aid to school districts will be cut by June 1st unless the Legislature acts. Speaking to the news media, the governor reiterated her frustration with the Legislature's inaction. "Nobody is more frustrated than I am," she said. "The Legislature has not filled that hole. The clock starts ticking today." If other funds are not found, the cuts would amount to approximately $122 per pupil taken out of school districts' final aid payments, and a further $8 million in cuts to intermediate school districts.

Granholm will cut schools by June 1 unless Legislature acts

An angry Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced today that she is warning school administrators that they will face $125 per pupil cuts starting June 1st unless the Legislature acts to find new revenue. The Governor laid the blame for the situation on Senate Republicans, who have so far resisted any effort to find new tax revenues to solve the deficits for the current fiscal year.


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