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State budget & taxes

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

Few facts available about budget talks

14 March -- News reports from Lansing about the budget negotiations are bringing many hints but few hard facts. There are reports that House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) are nearing agreement on a package of budget cuts and accounting changes that would plug the gap in the current fiscal year budget, including school aid, without new taxes. Reportedly, the package funds school foundation allowances as originally budgeted but includes cuts in "categorical spending" programs for schools.

Letter to the Governor and Legislature

Below is the letter one group of parents, from Ann Arbor, sent to Governor Granholm and to their local representatives, Senator Liz Brater and Representative Rebekah Warren, on 16 March. They invite other groups pf parents to borrow the letter and use it as a framework for their own letter to their elected representatives. Every letter and message to our legislators makes a difference!
Dear Governor Granholm, Senator Brater, and Representative Warren: We are parents of children attending the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Pensions and health care in the spotlight

12 March -- Uncertainty continues to surround budget talks at the Capitol, but there are hints in news reports that some legislators may be inching towards attacking health care costs by making teachers state employees. [Update: press reports indicate that the bipartisan working group on the budget has unraveled, leaving the leaders of the two chambers to hammer out potential solutions.]

Negotiations begin

8 March -- Lawmakers representing both parties from the House and Senate did meet yesterday and today to try and hammer out a budget compromise. The talks were cloaked in secrecy, but apparently involved more than just the six lawmakers named earlier; the Governor's office was also represented, as was the Senate majority leader. The talks continue as the clock ticks on the school funding gap and the General Fund deficit.

Lawmakers nervous about tax plans

7 March -- The bipartisan joint working group on the state budget did not meet today as planned, and the reasons are unclear. The schedule change came amid talk in the capitol that House Democrats were looking for alternatives to the Governor's budget proposal, especially the 2% tax on services.

Bipartisan panel to meet on budget

Six members from both parties and houses will be meeting starting Wednesday (March 7) to work out a compromise on plugging the hole in the current year's budget. The group has set a March 15 deadline for their report, which is also the date by which Governor Granholm wants a budget agreement passed. Republicans have objected to the Governor's tying together solutions for the current and next fiscal years, because they feel it artificially builds pressure to increase taxes.

Budget talks begin; school reserves questioned

1 March -- Talks on the state budget deficit for this year and next, including what to do about the hole in the School Aid Fund, have begun in earnest now that Governor Granholm's budget proposals have been introduced as bills in the legislature. (For details on the budget proposals, see our summary on this page.) The Governor and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) have had their first face-to-face meeting about the budget after an earlier exchange of letters.

What's up with school funding?

For a fuller discussion of how the school funding system works, and how it came to look this way, check out this article originally posted on one local PTO's online conference. The article reviews the politics behind Proposal A and what's happened since then. It also has links to some very helpful documents. The article is reprinted below, with permission.
Posted October 12, 2006. With the run-up to the November elections and the (muted) buzz about Proposal 5, I thought this would be a good time to wax eloquent a bit about how our schools are funded.

Why can't we?

One of the comments I hear most often about programs at our public schools goes something like, "We're such a well-off community, why can't we have..." and insert your preferred item: smaller classes, more teachers, foreign language, more enrichment, or any of a dozen others. Another thing I hear, more quietly, from many families at Burns Park is, "Do we have to have all the PTO fundraisers?" The answer to the second question is "Yes," and the reason for that answer has a lot to do with the answer to the first question. And for that answer, we need to go back in time a bit - thirteen years to be precise.

Senate GOP leader wants to avoid mid-year cuts

23 February -- Press reports indicate that while Senate Republicans are keeping their alternate budget proposals "close to the vest," a few details are seeping out. MIRS News, a state politics news service, reports that Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) indicated that the GOP plan would not take back the per-pupil increase for schools originally budgeted for this year, avoiding mid-year cuts.

Dems submit bill for FY08 school aid appropriations

22 February -- An appropriations bill on school aid for FY2008 was introduced yesterday by Sens. Michael Switalski (D-Roseville) and minority leader Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek). The bill increases spending from the School Aid Fund by 2.9% to $11.986 billion, raising per-pupil foundation allowances by $178 from what was originally budgeted for the current year. (This brings the "basic" foundation allowance to $7,286 from $7,085, since the $23 "equity payment" for low-spending districts was factored in as well.)

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