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‘Absolute hypocrisy’: Michigan educators slam GOP vote on school funding

State lawmakers overnight narrowly approved a bill that will divert millions of dollars from the state’s revenue stream for schools, using that money instead to help cover the cost of some road repairs and environmental cleanup. They describe it as a shift and say it’ll be covered by increased revenue from internet sales.

Educators? They’re calling it a cut, and they’ve been blasting it all over social media.

The legislation cleared the Legislature overnight and now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder for approval. He’s expected to sign it.

According to the legislative analysis, House Bill 4991 will reduce the amount of revenue from the state’s income tax that goes into the State School Aid Fund and shift that money toward other priorities.

The plan would reduce revenue from the school aid fund by $141 million in 2019, $174 million in 2020, and $178 million in 2021.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Republicans said the shift in funding “would be offset by increased sales tax revenues generated from online sales.” And a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans told the Detroit News that schools would be held harmless and said the shift would not result in a reduction in state funding to schools.

But that wasn’t enough to satisfy educators across the state. Educators for years have been slamming the state for using revenue from the school aid fund to cover some higher education costs. Democrats in the Legislature released a district-by-district chart showing how much the shift would impact schools (see chart below).

Even the initial sponsor of the bill, which did not originally include language leading to the shift in school aid funding, voted no on the final version. The Free Press quoted Rep. Martin Howrylak, a Republican from Troy, as saying his bill had been hijacked and that, “This is a good example of why we shouldn’t be doing major legislation on the fly like this.”

He and seven of his original set of bipartisan co-sponsors withdrew their names from the bill, which the Free Press said was originally intended to ensure there is no tax penalty for Michigan residents who received state compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals spent hours pleading with lawmakers to reject the legislation.

Here is the House Democrats’ chart, with a district-by-district breakdown showing what they project to be the impact of the shift in school aid funding: