State lawmakers have approved diverting surplus school aid revenues to help close a $500 million budget hole.
The legislation would shift $250 million in money originally earmarked for the state’s School Aid Fund. Another bill in the package would make cuts to several state departments.
Democrats are blasting the move to shift funds away from education.
“Every time the Legislature loots the School Aid Fund is a betrayal to the voters and an insult to our students. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it needs to stop,” said State Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor.
Hopgood says education funding is too easy a target for Republican leaders when the state faces budget issues.
“It’s not convenient for our kids,” he said. “This could be going to our elementary, middle, and high schools, where it’s desperately needed.”
But Republicans say schools were not expecting to receive any of the money when the budget year began.
“I want to remind everybody we’re not reducing any school funding that schools are receiving in the current year,” said Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell.
“This is surplus money that was in the School Aid Fund. And we’re using just some of that to help shore up our constitutional responsibility to balance this year’s budget.”
The half-billion dollar shortfall was created largely by an unexpected number of businesses cashing in tax credits that were approved during the recession to help spur economic growth.
Gov. Rick Snyder proposed the budget cutting measures to help address the shortfall. He is expected to sign them.