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Senate Republicans Complete Worst Two-Year Budget Cycle in Recent History

Michigan Senate Democrats
June 5, 2012

Senate Republicans Complete Worst Two-Year Budget Cycle in Recent History
Senate’s passage of School Omnibus bill finalizes 2013 Budget, continues devastating cuts and betrayal of Michigan schools

Lansing –Senate Democrats’ staunch opposition to education cuts was again overridden by the Senate Republicans today as they passed House Bill 5372, the omnibus budget bill for School Aid, Higher Education and Community Colleges. The bill was the final piece to the 2013 Budget plan that completes legislative Republicans’ worst two-year budget cycle in recent history, cutting schools as much as $470 per pupil, stealing nearly $2 billion from the School Aid Fund, and reducing higher education funding by upwards of 15%.

“My Republican colleagues should be ashamed of this budget and what it does to our kids, not proud, but here they are clapping for themselves and slapping each other on the back for completing this appalling budget,” said Senator Whitmer. “This only further illustrates how oblivious and out of touch Republicans are with the people they represent. Over the last 18 months, Senate Republicans have picked the pockets of our kids and raided almost $2 billion from the School Aid Fund. Passing a budget that attacks our kids and our seniors to pay for corporate tax cuts shows neither courage nor leadership, but it’s downright disturbing that they can do so with no conflict of conscience.”

The 2012 and 2013 budgets passed by legislative Republicans is arguably the worst two-year budget cycle Michigan has ever seen. In addition to the drastic cuts to vital state services and the tax hikes on seniors’ pensions last year to pay for a $1.8 billion tax break for big businesses, education has been hit unbelievably hard. Last year, K-12 schools were cut $470 per pupil. This year, some schools received a paltry increase that does nothing to cover the damage done before—as low as a $1 per pupil increase for some schools. Nearly half of Michigan’s K-12 schools received no per pupil increase this year. Additional education funding for K-12 schools continues to be tied to the Governor’s questionable incentive programs that require schools to cater to subjective and ambiguous criteria.

“This budget before us is just the latest attack on education and undermines our public schools in favor of unproven and often privately-run, for-profit charter and cyber schools,” said Senator Anderson. “Our schools were cut almost $500 per pupil last year, crippling their efforts to educate our kids, and this budget makes no meaningful effort to counteract that cut. Even worse, the Republican-led Legislature continues to use the voter-approved and constitutionally protected School Aid Fund as their own personal piggy bank, stealing money from our kids to pay for big business tax breaks and other budget items.”

Last year, community colleges were reduced by 4.1% and higher education institutions were slashed by a whopping 15%. The minor budget increases to their budgets this year don’t even scratch the surface of the restoring the cuts they have already endured.

Another major problem with the Senate Majority’s budget priorities is that they continue to take money to pay for other budget priorities. The School Aid Fund was voter established and constitutionally protected through Proposal A to specifically—and only—direct money to K-12 schools. But over the last two years, Senate Republicans have taken nearly $2 billion from the School Aid Fund to pay for the Community Colleges and Higher Education budgets.