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.
"There are a lot of bad ideas generated during any lame duck session, but paying for road repairs out of money intended for our classrooms may be one of the worst I’ve heard” - TCA Vice-President Mark Greatheadhttps://t.co/OdNzZ9kphN— Tri-County Alliance (@TriCo4PubEd) December 21, 2018
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).
Please know the Legislature and outgoing Gov will be taking $10M from internet sales tax that would have gone to DPSCD for their other priorities. Remember that political power is who gets what...when, how, and how much!— Nikolai Vitti (@Dr_Vitti) December 21, 2018
The absolute hypocrisy of those who lecture public education about financial responsibility and then turn around and vote to take money from our kids because they cannot do their job is unconscionable @massp https://t.co/58pHCZ5Kwq— Dr. RJ Webber (@NoviAcademics) December 21, 2018
Stealing fr/ Michigan’s 1.5M public school children is an incredibly tragic way to balance a state budget - one that will surely set MI further behind our current #34th ranking in Ed funding in the country #HowAretheChildren MI lawmakers should be ashamed @MASALeads @massp https://t.co/4Zb2xIO2bG— A2SchoolsSuper (@A2SchoolsSuper) December 21, 2018
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.
Thank you to the stalwart Michigan Education lobby core for all of your efforts during lame duck. I know things did not roll our way but your advocacy for children is commendable. @BobKefgen @PeterSpadafore @MASALeads @TriCo4PubEd @TalentTriangle @MASB @MAISA_ISDs #GrinchedAgain— Secondary Principals (@massp) December 21, 2018
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: