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Politics & Government
Wed May 29, 2013
More money for schools and local governments?
State lawmakers are getting close to wrapping next year’s budget. The state House has passed bills to fund schools and state government through next fiscal year.
Public School Funding
Every school would see at least a five-dollar per-pupil boost. Schools getting the minimum amount from the state could receive up to $60 more per student.
Democratic state Representative Brandon Dillon says he’s happy no schools will see cuts in state support, but he says it still doesn’t come close to adequately funding public schools.
"You know, it’s better than last year," he said. "But our standards for excellence in school funding have diminished significantly. And it’s still not enough to educate kids, especially kids in high poverty, high needs districts, and our urban districts."
Democrats are also criticizing the bill for cutting funds that would go toward implementing the federal Common Core curriculum standards in schools.
They say those funding cuts put Michigan schools at risk of losing federal dollars.
House Republicans say there’s plenty of time left to debate the standards before allowing them to take effect.
Revenue sharing with local governments
State revenue sharing with municipalities and counties would increase by almost five percent under the budget bills. Many lawmakers say that would be a big help to local governments that have seen their budgets dwindle in recent years.
But the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee says it’s not enough. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) says many cities will still have trouble providing basic services.
"This little bit of trinkets that we just gave them, they’re trinkets," said Talib. "They’re not enough to really restore those cuts that folks on the other side of the aisle took two years ago."
Juvenile Justice Facilities
The legislation would keep open the last three juvenile justice facilities in the state. Many lawmakers wanted the facilities closed to save money.
State Representative Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) calls the plan a compromise.
"To tell you the truth, all three facilities continue to bleed general fund dollars," said MacGregor. "There’s some savings there. I just have to do a better job of convincing my Senate and the executive that there are real savings there."
Many Democrats say if the facilities close, there's no guarantee private facilities would be willing to accept all of the children currently under state supervision.
The budget plan would also maintain state film incentives at $50 million a year.
The state Senate could take up the budget bills as soon as today.