Michigan Budget Battle Leaves Schools Waiting on Final Funding Numbers

The budget battle is dragging on in Lansing with the legislature and Governor Whitmer still not agreeing on a budget for the upcoming year.

It’s been several months since the governor introduced her budget to lawmakers but the two sides have yet to come to an agreement.

One of the major sticking points is how to fund repairs to Michigan’s roads.

Governor Whitmer wants a 45 cent gas tax.

Republicans are not sold on that plan and say the funding needs to come from another source.

For the past eight years schools have known by now how much money they’re getting from the state.

This year, they’re still not sure what the state plans to give them.

Benzie Central Schools had their budget ready to go several weeks ago, but had to essentially make an educated guess as to how much money they’ll be getting per student from the state.

“We need an answer as soon as possible. Because the sooner we have it the sooner we can plan effectively,” said Superintendent Matt Olson.

Superintendent Matt Olson says the longer the budget battle drags on in Lansing, the less time they have to plan for any changes they have to make.

“We want to use our resources for kids and so getting a windfall in September or October, if indeed it stretches out that far, it’s not nearly as helpful as getting those dollars up front. If you’re going to do things like hire additional staff and you’re year has already started, it’s just more difficult to expend resources in a responsible way after the school year has started,” said Olson.

Kingsley superintendent Dr. Keith Smith says while the funding from Lansing is still uncertain, there is a bright spot.

“The good news this year is that while we don’t have a settled budget, all the numbers people are talking about, whether it’s the Senate, the House or even the governor, they’re still talking about increases to the school aid fund and so whatever that is will be an increase to what we’ve already had,” said Smith.

State law requires a state budget be in place by October.