State budget & taxes

Articles about state budget and tax policies, and how they affect school aid funding.

Governor to sign school aid bill for this year; hole remains

The state Senate yesterday gave its approval to a bill that closes about $300 million of the school-aid deficit for this year, even though it fails to account for $62 million of the deficit originally projected in January. State budget officials say Governor Granholm will sign the bill. Left unresolved is the question of how the growing school aid deficit, now reckoned to be an additional $150 million below the mark, will be handled.

Couldn't have said it better!

I saw this letter to the editor in the Ann Arbor News last Friday (13 April) and was grinning from ear to ear! In three short paragraphs, Ms. Angle, of Ypsilanti, deftly summed up the reason we invest in public education and why it’s worth defending. I wanted to share it with you.

House acts in late session; now the horsetrading begins

In a late night session so tense that it degenerated into ‘trash talking,’ the state House voted last night not to make per pupil cuts to public schools. While the vote on school aid was unusually bi-partisan, other bills considered last night – aimed at closing the State’s general fund deficit – were voted up or down on nearly straight party lines and occasioned the verbal tussling.

See the full story on the MIPFS web site!

Tax revenues continue to fall; schools warned of cuts

The news just keeps getting better and better. State officials are forecasting that state tax revenue for the rest of the year will end up even below the estimates which were revised downward in January. The state budget director has notified school districts across the state that, unless the Legislature agrees on measures to close the growing school funding gap, the governor will have no choice but to order substantial cuts to school funding – on the order of $90 to $125 per pupil.

Lawmakers respond: Gov. Jennifer Granholm

Also in response to our original letter about school funding, Gov. Granholm sent this call to action to everyone who supports our efforts (a PDF version of the original letter is attached below).

April 6, 2007

Ann Arbor Parents For Schools
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Dear Ann Arbor Parents for Schools members:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding funding for Ann Arbor Public Schools. I have made it clear that I do not intend to slash school funding in Michigan this year and that I believe we should increase our investment in K-12 schools to keep Michigan competitive.

Lawmakers respond: Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor)

In response to our original letter about school funding, Rep. Rebekah Warren (who represents most of Ann Arbor in the state House) sent the following thoughtful reply (a PDF of her original letter is attached below).

March 27, 2007

Mr. Steven J. Norton
Ann Arbor Parents for Schools
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Dear Mr. Norton,

Thank you for sending along this additional information about the Aim Arbor Parents for Schools group and giving me an opportunity to read your introductory letter. It was a pleasure to meet you the other night at the Town Hall meeting and to hear about this absolutely crucial undertaking.

House Dems propose smaller K12 increase, bigger equity payment, for FY08

Departing from the Governor’s proposals, House Democrats have moved a bill that would increase foundation allowances by only $100 for next year, but give most districts an additional $100 equity payment.

Governor’s proposal trimmed
The amended version of HB4359, the School Aid appropriations bill for fiscal 2008, passed the School Aid and Education Appropriations subcommittee on a party line vote. The bill increases overall spending on school aid by $295 million compared to this year, but comes in $42 million short of the Governor’s original recommendation.

Schools and the "T" word

Taxes. There, now I’ve said it. It’s a word no one wants to hear, especially now that Michigan’s economy seems to be sliding downhill. (And never in April.)

But wishing won’t make it go away. So here is the question:

Do we really have to pay more taxes to get decent schools? Don’t we pay enough already?

Well, it depends. What do you want your kids’ schools to look like ten years from now? What would you like our state’s economy to look like thirty years from now? That’s really the bottom line. To quote a colleague of mine, “You get what you pay for.”

See the rest of this article on the Michigan Parents for School site:

Speak out now to stop late cuts this year!

We sent our letter to Chmn. Cushingberry, other members of the House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Ebli (Monroe) and Warren (Ann Arbor), and Sens. Brater and Richardville, on April 5th. A copy of the final letter in PDF form is attached to the posting. Read our letter on the Michigan Parents for Schools site:

What's next? Budget struggle moves to the House

In a deft reversal of spin, Republican lawmakers and allied “opinion leaders” are pushing the notion that Senate Republicans have taken leadership on the budget question, including school aid, by passing their two appropriations bills last week. It’s the Democrats and the Governor, they argue, who should be called on the carpet for not presenting their plans. But it is useful to recall that the Republican plan remained secret until just hours before their two key bills, one cutting general state spending and the other shaving back school aid funds, were pushed to a quick vote on the floor of the Senate. Gov. Granholm’s original plan, which relied on new and restructured taxes but did not cut school funding, was summarily killed off in the upper house. This leaves the Republican leadership in the enviable position of being the “spoiler” on budget issues, able to poke holes and make points without having to take any heat for potential tax increases.