Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 9, 2014

Michigan House, Senate pass similar school budgets

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate and House passed similar school budget bills Thursday that would increase per-pupil spending on K-12 education for next fiscal year.

The Republican-led Senate voted 26-12 in favor of a $13.74 billion budget, mostly along party lines. It would boost overall spending from roughly $13.3 billion this year and increase per-pupil funding by between $150 and $300, depending on the school. That increase would total $415 million.

The $13.76 billion House budget passed 97-12. It raises per-pupil funding by between $56 and $112, totaling $141 million.

Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget includes an average $100 increase in Michigan's per-pupil grant, with the minimum grant rising from $7,076 to $7,187 and the maximum from $8,049 to $8,132.

Both the House and Senate budgets require a new version of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program for spring testing in the next two school years. Use of a new, unspecified standardized test is scheduled to start in the 2016-17 school year.

That leaves in question plans to administer tests aligned with uniform national education standards known as Common Core. For almost four years, Michigan has participated in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two broad groups of states developing companion tests to the Common Core standards.

Snyder, the state Education Department, business community and some education groups support the Common Core, which many conservatives nationwide have denounced as a top-down takeover of local schools.

Differences among the budget drafts will be hammered out in House-Senate conference committees after lawmakers and Snyder's administration meet in mid-May to get a consensus update on revenue projections.

The Senate also approved a general government spending proposal and budgets for the Departments of Human Services, Education and Corrections. The approved House bill included community college and higher education spending.

Some Senate Democrats criticized the distribution of funds in the K-12 budget as well as in higher education and community colleges budgets that passed Tuesday, saying money from the state's School Aid Fund used in those budgets should be reserved for K-12.

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