LANSING, Mich. - In the short term, the debate over school funding in Michigan will revolve around whether to use federal stimulus dollars to fill this year's state budget overspending crisis or next year's, according to various media reports. In the long term, the debate will focus on whether to increase taxes.

About 1,500 teachers, parents and other supporters rallied at the Capitol building in Lansing Tuesday to protest K-12 budget cuts, according to The Detroit News, many reporting they will have to cut staff or programs. Right now, combined cuts made by the Legislature and Gov. Jennifer Granholm add up to about $292 per student in most districts.

The state House of Representatives has adopted legislation to spend the remaining federal stimulus dollars to reduce that to about $175 per student, but the Michigan Senate wants to reserve those dollars to cushion even higher cuts expected in 2011, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service.

While that debate plays out, the governor told educators at a meeting in Mason that she would support an expanded sales tax, graduated income tax or "racinos" as potential new school revenue sources if the education community headed an effort to put any of those ideas on a statewide ballot, MIRS reported.

MIRS reported that it asked the governor why she was only looking at the revenue side instead of pushing reforms in areas like the cost of employee health care and pensions. Granholm responded by saying that State Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan is working on a plan for service sharing and consolidation, according to MIRS.

SOURCES:
The Detroit News, "Parents, teachers press Lansing to restore education funding," Nov. 11, 2009

Michigan Information & Research Service, Inc., "Short-term K-12 Funding: Gov Eyes Stimulus," Nov. 10, 2009 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Senior Skip Day," Nov. 10, 2009

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