LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The governor and GOP legislature are close to finishing a job that started more than 30 years ago. The job? Treat every school student the same when it comes to equal state support.
Former governors John Engler, Jim Blanchard, Jennifer Granholm and Rick Snyder all tried to close the funding gap in per-pupil state aid.
In 1994 Michigan voters voted for Proposal 1 to fund education using the state sales tax, but there was never enough revenue to give every student the same amount of state support, thus the funding gap between the well-to-do and disadvantaged schools.
Now comes Governor Whitmer and the GOP leaders who are close to closing that gap for good.
“We are in a position where we can eliminate the funding gap that has persisted even with the passage of Proposal 1 back in 1994. This is almost 30 years later and we have the ability to close that gap once and for all,” said Whitmer.
Last Thursday, using federal COVID dollars, the Michigan House voted to spend $8,700 for every student.
While the chair of the Senate budget committee Jim Stamas has not formally signed off on the deal the GOP chair of the K-12 budget State Senator Wayne Schmidt is on board.
But here is the big concern in the education lobby. The State has enough federal dollars this year to close the gap, but that money won’t be there next year… so will the State find the bucks to keep the gap closed?
“In addition to eliminating that gap we are making sure we keep that level of funding going forward,” said Schmidt.
“This is not going to be a one time funding plan.”
The Senator says they will not raise taxes to pay for the $8,700 per pupil and they will not steal from other state services to do it.
He says economic growth will be the funding source.
“The economy is going to come back,” he said.
By the end of this week, schools will know if the gap will be closed now with a promise to keep it closed in the out years.