Politics
4:11 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

Budget done early, schools and local governments can plan for cuts

The Michigan Legislature has wrapped up its financial planning for the future.

The $46 billion state budget is done - they'll start spending the money October 1st (that's when the fiscal year starts).

The Associate Press writes:

The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has finished approving a new state budget that will cut state aid for education and many state departments...The quick resolution of next year's budget is a victory for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who wanted lawmakers to wrap up votes by May 31.

This is the earliest the state budget has been completed in 30 years, according to the Detroit News.

Early passage gives school districts, agencies, and local governments time to plan for their next fiscal years.

In past years, schools have had to lay off teachers over the summer because they weren't sure how much money the state was going to allocate. Michigan Radio's Lester Graham reported last August on what past budget delays meant for the school system:

Iris Salters is the President of the Michigan Education Association, a teachers union. She says school districts should not be forced into this kind of situation.

"They have notified people that they are laid off, cut programming in some cases. Then, that if it had been a little earlier they wouldn't have had to do that kind of thing and not know where they are going," Salters said.

And Salters says for teachers and other school employees not knowing if they have a job next year is nerve wracking and they feel like they'd better go job hunting.

"So, a lot of times people are out looking when they don't need to be looking. And sometimes they find those jobs in other entities and are gone! And we've lost them just because of the process."

So the budget is done early, which is good for planning, but K-12 schools and local governments are facing cuts. MLive's Peter Luke writes:

The chief complaint with the budget is that it uses $400 million of school aid monies for higher education, up from the $200 million used in fiscal 2010. Democrats said the 2012 transfer violates the “promise” of Proposal A, the 1994 school finance changes that shifted much of the funding responsibility for schools to the state.

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Laura Weber spoke with Democrats who are upset with the final budget. From Weber's report:

Democrats say that expediency is a detriment to the state rather than an accomplishment. Democratic state Representative Ellen Lipton says she had trouble finding the words to convince Republicans that the spending plans, particularly for education, are bad.

"The arguments have been made, people have spoken, letters have been written, thousands and thousands and thousands of words have been cast trying to change the course of this really horrific education budget," said Lipton.

Governor Snyder is expected to sign the final budget deal soon.

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