LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan’s Republican-majority House and Senate budget committees have approved separate plans for more than $13 billion in spending for K-12 schools.
There are some significant contrasts between those plans, though, especially the House plan compared to Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal.
Snyder proposed a K-12 budget earlier this year in which he touted a $75 across-the-board increase in per-pupil funding, a new third-grade reading initiative, and career and technical education programs. He also included funding for at-risk schools and schools with deficits.
The House committee plan approved last week ignores most of those requests.
Republican Rep. Tim Kelly, who leads the House Appropriation’s Subcommittee on School Aid, said during the House budget committee’s meeting that he tried to create a plan where most funding usually broken out for specific initiatives would be rolled into the per-pupil funding. He wanted to create a budget “with as few strings as possible,” he said.
The House’s K-12 budget is about $50 million lower than Snyder’s recommendation, though it is a $222 million increase over the current year’s budget.
Instead of a $75 across-the-board increase in per-pupil funding, the House version would primarily use a formula where districts at the bottom get twice as much as those at the top.
The House plan did not include any money for Snyder’s early literacy initiative, which would put more than $25 million toward having children reading at grade level by third grade.
It also did not include Snyder’s $100 million boost for at-risk programs, which is based on the number of students who qualify for free lunch.
The House plan shunned Snyder’s request for $75 million to help the state’s more than 50 school districts with deficits.
The Senate budget committee’s plan, meanwhile, is more closely aligned with Snyder’s recommendations.
The Senate budget committee approved a plan for K-12 last week that would increase the amount for the third-grade reading initiative and career and technical education programs from what Snyder proposed. It also included funding requested by Snyder for at-risk schools and included $8.9 million for schools with deficits.
It is too early to say which parts of Snyder’s spending plans for schools will actually make it into law by the time the budget process is over, but he does have an ally in the House Democrats on several of his recommendations.
Minority Democrats in the House budget committee failed to win amendments to the K-12 spending plan that would have followed Snyder’s recommendations on funding for at-risk programs, bilingual education, and math and science centers. They ended up voting against sending the bill to the House floor, but some expressed hope that they could come to an agreement by the time legislation makes it to Snyder.
“We do have an opportunity to get to a bipartisan package,” said Rep. Sam Singh, a Democrat from East Lansing.
Also last week, the House budget committee passed a $37.8 billion general budget bill setting spending for state departments. The Senate budget committee version moved last week as well.
Legislative leaders aim to complete next fiscal year’s budget by early June. The budget could change drastically if voters approve a sales tax hike for road improvements on May 5 and once legislators receive revised revenue projections in mid-May.
Read analysis of the House and Senate budget bills: https://1.usa.gov/1zUEsEA
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