Targets for the 2015-16 budget have been set are in House and Senate conference committees to hammer out a final budget.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Snyder have agreed to use $400 million from the General Fund to fix roads since the defeat of Proposal 1 left us with no real plan. But the rest of the targets for spending—like education—are still yet to be decided.
The Mackinac Center has “stepped up” with its own road funding plan—“How Michigan can fix its roads”--that calls on legislators to redirect current or future state money to help pay for roads. The Center proposes that most of the money come from “reducing expenditures on programs that offer little or no benefit to the typical Michigan taxpayer.”
It seems the Mackinac Center includes education spending on K-12, community colleges and universities in those programs “offering little or no benefit.” They recommend freezing the School Aid Fund and using the money for road repairs.
K-12 enrollment is declining, and since budget targets for 2015-16 set $169 million from the General Fund for schools—school districts will have plenty of money left over. That “extra” money could be put into roads.
And they claim there’s little evidence that state spending on colleges leads to more college graduates or a better state economy, so legislators could reduce the $1.5 billion for universities to $637 million and put it into road repairs. School Aid money can’t be used for roads, so if higher education needs more money, the Mackinac Center says to take it out of the School Aid Fund. That frees up more General Fund money for roads.
The Mackinac Center is ready to start their campaign to convince members to opt out of their MEA membership. Like last year, they’ll be sending out letters and postcards; they’ll be taking out full-page newspaper ads paid for by anti-public education and anti-union groups; and they’ll be using television, radio and social media to promote the idea that MEA doesn’t have the best interest of public education employees, students or public education at heart.
Don’t be fooled! Not when it’s the Mackinac Center suggesting we sacrifice students and a quality education for a pothole! Whose best interests do you think they have at heart when they want to divert millions of dollars from schools to give to roads?