Budget surplus should go toward restoring education cuts

Leaders from across Michigan are calling on Gov. Rick Snyder and state legislators to invest a newfound budget surplus into public schools, to help make up for  the massive cuts previously made to K-12 education.

This week’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference found that the state has an additional $483 million than projected for the current fiscal year, as well as $219 million more for next fiscal year and $244 million in Fiscal Year 2015.

Snyder and legislative Republicans previously slashed more than $1 billion from K-12 schools to help fund a $1.8 billion tax cut for corporate special interests. As a result, children in schools throughout the state have been struggling with staff layoffs, increased class sizes, supply shortages and even school closures. JUMP

Snyder’s school cuts have led to financial crises in Michigan school districts like Pontiac, Buena Vista, Muskegon Heights, Benton Harbor, Albion and elsewhere, as children and school employees face a precarious future due to their schools’ running out of funding.

Despite that, Snyder’s budget director, John Nixon, said he’s keen on using the funds for infrastructure and bolstering the state’s rainy day fund, according to the MIRS newsletter.

“Schools are very important,” Nixon said. “But we need to make sure that we’re addressing our problem areas.” 

MEA President Steve Cook countered that the lack of adequate funding for K-12 education is by far the most critical issue facing the state.

“Providing a quality education to every Michigan child is our state’s number one priority,” Cook said.  “It’s time for our state’s leaders to provide immediate relief to our schools and restore every penny cut from public education.”

Senate Democratic spokesman Robert McCann said: “There’s little question that money should be invested back into our schools. We’re watching as school districts across the state teeter on the brink of collapse due in large part to the billions of dollars the governor’s budgets unethically took away from them. It’s a problem this administration helped create and it’s a problem this administration must play a role in solving.”