The public school establishment has responded to Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget trimming by claiming that schools simply can’t endure any more cuts. To avoid the difficult decisions the proposals will undoubtedly force, some districts have even resorted to playing loose with the truth about their past and current financial positions.
However, the potential challenges can hardly be considered insurmountable. Even if Gov. Snyder's proposed spending reductions are passed by the Republican Legislature, Michigan schools on average will still get more state and local tax dollars than schools in 28 other states.
According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Michigan ranked 21st in the country in the amount of money schools received per student from local- and state-based taxation in 2008 (the latest data available). Michigan taxpayers supplied schools with $11,831 per student that year. Gov. Snyder’s proposed cut of $300 per pupil would drop Michigan from 21st in the nation to 22nd.
Only Indiana would leapfrog ahead of Michigan. Hoosiers would pay about $240 more per student in local and state taxes to their schools than Michigan if the governor’s proposals are adopted. Even adding to this the $170 per pupil loss of federal funds that schools got last year (and shouldn’t have planned on getting this year), Michigan’s national rank would remain the same, and would still be about $750 per pupil higher than the national average.
So, while many members of the public school establishment might claim they’ve cut “down to the bone” to find ideas on how to operate with $11,361 per student, they need only consult their colleagues in Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and California and 20 other states.