Michigan lawmakers, lobbyists, react to School Aid Fund

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at Steelcase in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Monday, May 24, 2021. It was the first day Steelcase is having many of their employees back in the office since the coronavirus pandemic started, thanks to the new MIOSHA rules that changed today, allowing non-essential workers to come back to offices. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Reactions from Michigan lawmakers and special interest groups have been pouring in as the Michigan legislature approves of the 2021-2022 School Aid Fund budget.

The approval will increase funding per-pupil by around $8,700 per student, or a 7% increase for most districts. The budget also approves the use of federal COVID relief funding with equalization payments to ensure every school gets at least $1,093 in additional funding per student.

The Great Start Readiness Program also receives an additional investment of $168 million, and more resources will be invested in special education, career and tech equipment.

The budget for community colleges and universities will be addressed in a future measure.

“The bipartisan school aid bill makes historic investments in our children without raising taxes and will help each and every student thrive academically, mentally, and physically,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a press release. “I look forward to signing this legislation to expand the Great Start Readiness preschool program for 22,000 more children and connect more students to counselors, psychologists, and nurses in their schools. The bill also delivers on a decades-old goal to close the K-12 school funding gap.”  

“This is a historic accomplishment – finally eliminating a funding gap that the state has been working to erase since voters approved Proposal A in 1994,”said State Representative Thomas Albert, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “And this is the perfect time to accomplish the mission. Our kids need help like never before after the past year-and-a-half of the COVID pandemic. We are delivering resources that will help students return to normalcy and get caught back up.”

“Equalizing the state foundation grants for our children’s education is a major step in the right direction for school funding. We appreciate the leadership from Gov. Whitmer to bring forward this important change, and for lawmakers from both parties embracing a fix to a long-standing injustice,” said MEA President Paula Herbart.“This is by no means an end to the fight for adequate and equitable funding for our schools. After decades of inequity and underinvestment in education, we must remain committed to fixing our school funding system so it provides the resources for every student to succeed, no matter where they live or what their learning needs are.

“In concert with critical federal pandemic relief funding, this budget gives us a chance to show our communities what can be accomplished for our students when schools are provided with funding to be successful – and what still needs to be done to provide a world-class education for every Michigan student.”

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