We’re nearing the middle of the budget process, and the omnibus budgets for public education are waiting approval from the respective committees in the House and Senate.

Higher Education (Universities)

Governor Snyder’s recommendation for the higher education budget included a $28,566,800 increase in operations spending, representing 2 percent increase for a total operations appropriation of $1,456,911,800. The Senate proposed a 3 percent increase of $42,850,300, while the House proposed a 1 percent operations increase of $14,283,500.

Click here for a detailed breakdown of the higher education budget proposals.

Community Colleges

Under the three proposals from the Governor, House, and Senate, the overall state budget for Michigan’s 28 community colleges would be increased for the next fiscal year, with slight variations by proposal:

Under the governor’s proposal, no increases would be made in the operations budget for colleges. All three budgets include a one-time distribution to offset MPSERS costs. The House and Senate would provide increases in operations for community colleges of 1 percent, distributed to individual colleges based on a variety of factors. Click here for a detailed breakdown of the community colleges budget proposals.

K-12 School Aid

Governor Snyder and the House proposals for the School Aid Budget would increase the per pupil foundation allowance by $120-$240, distributed according to the 2x formula with the school districts currently receiving the least funding receiving the highest increases. The Senate proposal would increase the per pupil foundation allowance by $115-$230, also distributed through the 2x formula.

Overall, AFT Michigan is supportive of the Governor’s proposal. We have concerns with boilerplate language proposed in the House and Senate budgets.

The House and Senate budgets include language that stipulate that if less than 50 percent of at-risk students in a district perform below the statewide average on certain standardized tests, then half of the at-risk funding for that proportion of students be spent on tutoring or other measures specifically aimed at improving their test scores. We oppose this language because it specifically requires state funding be spent on teaching to the test, and diverts resources from other programming for economically disadvantaged students.

Additionally, the Senate proposal includes language which will unfairly penalize struggling schools and inhibit their ability to improve educational outcomes for students. Section 22p of the budget requires schools with partnership agreements to establish extremely high improvement metrics, and accomplish them in the very short time frame of 18 months. If a school does not meet these expectations, the school must either be closed before the next school year or “reconstituted.” Under school reconstitution, funding will be limited to the minimum foundation allowance, a new school leader must be hired, collective bargaining agreements must be immediately severed, and a school-specific board must be appointed by the district’s school board which can unilaterally implement working conditions and wages for teachers. This policy will severly interrupt student learning and completely undermine educator voice in school improvement planning.

AFT Michigan asks our members to contact their state senators and representatives to oppose these changes to the at-risk and partnership model funding and requirements.

Click here to contact your legislators.