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2011 May 16 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: Michigan Lawmakers Consider Education Funding Cuts

By TIM MARTIN, Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — All major segments of Michigan’s public education system, including community colleges, would face funding cuts under proposals advanced by Republicans who control the state Legislature.

The Republican-led Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut community college funding by about 3.4 percent, or roughly $10 million, in the budget year that begins in October. The measure next goes to the Senate floor.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder proposed holding community college funding steady next fiscal year, one of the relatively few programs he wouldn’t cut in his $45.9 billion overall budget proposal. But plans in both the Senate and House propose cuts to the two-year colleges. A measure before the House Appropriations Committee would slash community college funding by roughly 15 percent, mirroring the state aid cuts that universities likely will face next fiscal year.

“These are tough times, and tough decisions must be made,” Sen. Darwin Booher, a Republican from Evart, said while outlining the Senate’s proposed cuts to community colleges.

Democrats oppose the cuts, saying community colleges need the money to help retrain Michigan workers who lost their jobs in recent years.

Universities and K-12 schools are even more likely to face substantial cuts, although proposals vary between Snyder and Republicans who control the state Legislature.

Public school districts can expect a continuation of the $170 per student reduction that’s already in place for the current fiscal year. A House subcommittee recommended that schools be cut next year by an additional 3.9 percent — a reduction that would range from $285 to $331 per student, depending on what districts now receive from the state.

Snyder has proposed an additional $300 across-the-board per student cut for next fiscal year. A Senate plan calls for an additional cut of $170 per student.

Democrats are opposed to all of the education cuts, but the K-12 measures seemed to draw the most concern. Democrats say the reductions will lead to more teacher layoffs and program cuts at Michigan schools, some of which already are struggling with their finances.

Rep. Lisa Brown, a Democrat from West Bloomfield, said the proposed school aid budget “is an attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our children.”

Universities are likely to get a reduction of roughly 15 percent under all Republican plans. There are differences, however, in how it would be implemented and how much school aid fund money would be used to support universities and community colleges.

Comments: ccweekblog

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