Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

June 25, 2014

Snyder approves more funding for colleges, preschool

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed a $15.8 billion education budget that includes substantially more money for public universities and a preschool program for disadvantaged 4-year-olds, along with a more modest boost in K-12 districts’ traditional per-student funding.

Overall state spending on education will rise $663 million, or 4 percent, in the fiscal year starting in October.

“This is an extremely high-quality budget,” the Republican governor said during a bill-signing event at the state Capitol. “In terms of K-12 investment from the state of Michigan, it’s over a billion dollars higher than 2010, the year before I took office and many of my colleagues in the Legislature. That’s a significant increase, and it shows there’s a commitment.”

Snyder was trying to counter Democrats’ election year attack that he cut $1 billion from education in his first year, which disregards federal stimulus money drying up and later supplemental adjustments to both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 K-12 budgets.

Every K-12 district will get at least $50 more a student. The lowest-funded districts will receive $175 more, with the minimum aid rising from $7,076 to $7,251.

Snyder’s challenger, Democrat Mark Schauer, said in a statement that the new budget continues a pattern of “wasting millions of our taxpayer dollars on unaccountable, for-profit charter schools that are failing to educate our kids.”

“Most Michigan schools will get about 29 cents more per pupil, per school day,” he said. “At the current rate of inflation, this means districts will actually get less in next year’s budget than they did this year, which will likely result in more teacher layoffs and larger class sizes.”

The governor plans to sign the rest of the next state budget — a $37.5 billion general spending bill — within a week once it is proofread and reaches his desk.

K-12 districts will qualify for more money by meeting “best practices” and get up to $100 more per student if standardized test scores improve. The funding gap among districts will be $848 per student next year, down from a disparity of $2,300 when the school finance system was revamped 20 years ago.

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