2011.05-04 Michael Osborne: Governor's budget will devastate school districts

Written by David Green. Posted in Letters

Governor Snyder’s proposed budget, if enacted, will be devastating to our local school districts and our students. We fully understand the severity of the economic issues facing Michigan, and while we agree with several of the Governor’s proposed policy changes, his budget is something we cannot accept.

His proposed budget will reduce our funding by $470 per pupil. Additionally, the increase in the state mandated retirement rate will push the per pupil reduction to the equivalent of more than $700 for each student in Lenawee County. This represents a total countywide reduction of $11,443,600. This is one of the largest proposed cuts to education by any Governor in Michigan’s history.

The Governor’s proposal would transfer almost $1 billion from the School Aid Fund to the State General Fund to help balance the General Fund Budget. If this happens, it will be our school tax dollars at work in places other than local public K-12 schools. We’ve heard a lot about “shared sacrifice,” but schools are facing a 7.3 percent cut, the largest of any portion of the State budget, while 10 other budgets, including the Department of Corrections, are seeing increases.

This diversion of K-12 school aid funds breaks a promise made to Michigan voters when Proposal A was approved in 1994. Proposal A allowed the State to take over school funding, and in exchange, local taxpayers agreed to give up their right to raise millage rates to operate their local schools. Now the Governor, and many of our State legislators, want to ignore the promise made in 1994.

If this proposed K-12 education budget is enacted, the ramifications will be severe and will directly impact Lenawee County’s students and Michigan’s future.  We need to send a loud and clear message to Lansing, Rep. Jenkins and Sen. Caswell: Please reject this proposal and try again!

– Mike Osborne and the county’s other 10 school superintendents

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