Legislature Passes K-12 Funding Plan On To Governor’s Desk

The most contentious pieces of the state budget process have been road funding and education.

This morning, the House and Senate K-12 Education joint committees passed their budget proposal before the main chambers made it official and sent it to the Governor’s desk for final approval.

“It’s common sense it’s the right thing for a kids and it’s what the people of our state expect,” says Speaker of the house Lee Chatfield, Republican from Levering.

The package is a $15.2 billion spending bill. The highlights of new spending features increases in per-pupil payments and $30 million toward special education.

“It’s more funding that can go to special ed services that now can relieve general fund,” says Representative Aaron Miller, Republican from Sturgis, “So it’s as if it might as well be raising per-pupil spending by $30 million with this new plan.”

The Senate passed without a single Democrat vote while Democrats in the House were more amendable.

“This package is not everything that we want but it certainly is reflective and better than some of what we seen,” says Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, Democrat from Detroit.

Locally, lawmakers say districts will like what we see.

“This is a great budget for Northern Michigan schools,” says Speaker Chatfield.

During the last few budget cycles, the legislature has been working to close the gap between the highest-earning schools and the lowest-earning schools with Northern Michigan being on that lowest-earning side. This bill takes one more step to even the playing field.

“Northern Michigan schools got double the increase of some of our downstate schools,” says Speaker Chatfield, “That’s a top priority that they get that funding until they are at even levels and I’m going to continue fighting for every kid in Northern Michigan until they are funded equally.”

Most schools receive $8,111 while the top schools get more than $15,000 but the average is closer.

“We are still probably just under $500, I believe,” says Senator Jim Stamas, Republican from Midland.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer will ultimately decide but the lawmakers are happy to be chopping away at the difference.

“Our kids in Northern Michigan deserve the funding that every other school district gets around the state,” says Speaker Chatfield.