|Image via Wikipedia|
|Michigan Democrats request in a series|
of press conferences for Gov. Rick Snyder
and state GOP leaders to restore public
school funding, to avoid cuts.
Democratic legislators held a series of press conferences this week to encourage both Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and House and Senate Republicans to restore state funding to public education.
The education budget has been a hot-topic since massive cuts to state based per-pupil funding was slashed to just $300 per student by recent law. These actions were passed by the GOP controlled state House and Senate, and then quickly signed by Gov. Snyder, despite a projected $900 million dollar surplus in the School Aid Fund, on June 21st.
Many legislators, school employees and community members believed education would be spared cuts in 2012 budget, with the noted surplus, but it was not.
Instead, the Republican-led legislature and Gov. Snyder voted to add college and university funding to the School Aid Fund, which wasn’t the original intend of the fund. In addition, they voted and passed cuts in the amount of $470 dollar per-pupil out of K-12 funding.
“We’re here for one simple reason, we’re hear to stand up for our schools now that the K-12 budget has been signed,” said Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) at a neighborhood school in downtown Grand Rapids. “These are cuts that are going to impact classroom sizes, quality of our text books, cause layoffs and in general they’re going to diminish the quality of our children’s education.”
Up to 30 individuals attended the press conference to show their support for K-12 funding. Some of the participants were brought to tears during the Representatives’ statements to the media.
“The reality is, these cuts were made only so the governor could finance an 82 percent tax cut for corporations,” said Dillon. “We understand that the governor wants to attract top-notch employers to Michigan but we fundamentally don’t believe that the only way to do that is to cut taxes and to leave our schools holding the bag, trying to figure out how they’re going to balance their budget.”
Dillon noted during the conference that employers aren’t going to want to move their businesses to Michigan if there is not a quality public education system in place.
Representative Roy Schmidt (D-Grand Rapids) was also present at the Grand Rapids press conference and said that the Republican budget “is nuts” and is doing nothing but “screwing our kids”.
“You can do a lot of things, you can live with revenue sharing cuts that I don’t like. But don’t mess with the kids,” said Schmidt.
Despite the brutal cuts to public education, Rep. Dillon believes the budget disagreements can be solved through bipartisan means when the legislature breaks for the summer.
“We don’t believe we needed to make these cuts this year, we want to sit down with the governor, House and Senate Republicans over this legislative break and try to figure out how we can do what the thousands of people across the state have told us they want — to fully fund our schools,” Dillon said.
The House Appropriations Committee, last week, rejected an extra $12 million dollars that the governor had requested to help implement the corporate tax cuts. Dillon also said there is money lying around to fund a Republican primary which, he cites they could move to a caucus system and send the extra money K-12′s way.
“Time and time again, Republican leaders have shown that they value corporations over our children,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing). “I’m calling on the Governor and Republican leaders to work with us to restore vital funding to education so that we don’t jeopardize the future of our kids and our state.”
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