Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

February 8, 2014

Fact Check: Technical foul on Dem ad slamming Snyder

Who: Democratic Governors Association

What : The Difference,” a television ad promoting Mark Schauer for governor.

The call:Technical Foul

Produced by the Democratic Governors Association, the 30-second ad introduces Mark Schauer, a former state lawmaker and member of Congress from mid-Michigan, to voters statewide. Schauer is a Democratic candidate for governor this year.

He is shown climbing out of a Jeep Grand Cherokee (built at Chrysler’s Jefferson North plant in Detroit). A school classroom is briefly shown as Schauer says that his dad was a science teacher and his mom a nurse. He then talks about how he was in charge of an early childhood education program in Battle Creek and how he pushed for lower interest rates on student loans.

Statements under review:

“We need to stop Gov. Snyder’s cuts to school funding … Let’s tell Gov. Snyder, cutting school funding is no way to build a strong economy.”

There is enough gray area on this subject that Snyder can accurately claim education funding is up, while Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer can just as accurately claim school funding is down.

Snyder claimed in his State of the State address, though not in the Super Bowl ad, that K-12 spending had increased by $660 per student since he took office. That number reflects total appropriations, which have indeed risen from $12.98 billion in fiscal year 2011 to $13.36 billion appropriated for the current fiscal year, while the number of students has declined.

A lot of that increase has gone toward teacher pension liabilities, which is funding that is not flowing into classrooms. The state’s basic per-pupil foundation allowance is down since Snyder took office, from $7,316 in 2010-11 to $7,076 in 2013-14.

(For a detailed breakdown on the school funding debate, see former director of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency Mitch Bean’s analysis)

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