By Judy Reed
Last week Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a budget bill approving a $165 per pupil funding cut for Michigan schools, then on Thursday announced another cut of $127 if the legislature doesn’t act within 30 days to fix the budget shortfall.
“There is no way we can sustain an additional $127 in cuts this late in the school year,” said Cedar Springs Superintendent Ron McDermed, in a note to parents and staff. “Our kids are in classrooms and quality instruction is taking place. We cannot disrupt these kids now.”
Cedar Springs lost $565,000 in revenue in the first cut, which left them only about $50,000 in the black. The second cut would cost them $430,000. “In the event the legislature does not act, this will have a major impact on our district,” said McDermed. He said last week that the district was already running lean and there wasn’t much left to cut.
Granholm explained her actions in her radio address last Friday. “Why did I take these actions? Because in simple terms, the school aid budget that arrived on my desk was a bad check that bounced almost as soon as it was written. In fact, our state treasurer found that there was a gap between the amount the Legislature voted to spend on our schools and the amount they set aside to pay for it. Clearly, that is unacceptable, and it threatens our schools with deep cuts months into the new school year,” noted Granholm.
The new cut will take effect for the December payment to schools unless the legislature fixes the problem.
Granholm noted that teaches and support personnel would be laid off, programs would be cut, and classes sizes would increase if the problem is not corrected.
“We cannot afford to let that happen, and we won’t,” said Granholm. “Citizens across our state are speaking out loudly about the need for new revenues for our schools. And there are already signs that lawmakers in both parties are willing to do what’s right to fund our schools. In fact, our state House has actually passed several measures to increase revenues to fund critical needs in our budget, and they are ready to do more. There’s no reason our state Senate can’t follow suit.”
Granholm said the key is hearing from voters. “If you share my belief that we need to provide our schools the critical funds they need, I hope you will speak out.”
You can email area legislators at SenMJansen@senate.michigan.gov and firstname.lastname@example.org.