The Michigan Senate has passed a budget bill that would boost state funding to public schools by about 3%. Universities and colleges would also get a roughly 2% increase.
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R- Monroe) praised the schools budget, saying it addresses issues like teacher retirement costs while giving more money to districts.
“The education budget this year may be the best that I’ve seen since I’ve been up here,” said Richardville.
But many Democrats say the plan does not do enough to make up for cuts to education over the past couple of years.
Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D- Lansing) says schools will continue to fall behind under the budget plan.
“We’ve seen schools from around the state - from Buena Vista Township, to Albion, to Ann Arbor – who are struggling to survive after the budgetary bloodbath they’ve already endured under the Snyder regime,” said Whitmer. “And this year is no different, whether you want to admit it or not.”
Democrats are also criticizing language that would put restrictions on colleges and universities related to social issues. Among other things, it would bar schools from offering healthcare and other benefits to domestic partners of employees and require reporting on embryonic stem cell research.
State Senator Bert Johnson (D- Detroit) says it’s a government overreach and a waste of time.
“While most Michiganders care about jobs and making sure our state’s unemployment rate is no longer among the worst in the nation, the Republicans in both the House and the Senate continue waging the culture war,” said Johnson.
The bill now goes to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.