$19 Billion in School Revenues Described in New “Michigan School Money Primer”

Overview of Michigan school revenues, appropriations and budgeting intended to assist policymakers, school officials, media and residents

Finance primer coincides with state and school budget discussions

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Contact: Dr. Ryan S. Olson, Director of Education Policy
Michael D. LaFaive, Director of Fiscal Policy

MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has published an overview, unprecedented in its scope, of the system that finances Michigan public schools. In the book, "A Michigan School Money Primer," Director of Education Policy Dr. Ryan S. Olson and Director of Fiscal Policy Michael D. LaFaive trace the more than $19 billion — approaching $12,000 per full-time-equivalent pupil — in state, federal, local and intermediate school district tax revenues for Michigan public school budgets.

"To provide as accurate and thorough an overview as possible, we conducted an exhaustive examination of original source material, including Michigan statutes, the Michigan Constitution, court decisions and state, federal, local and intermediate school district documents," said Olson. "The result is a guide that will aid those who are familiar with aspects of the system financing Michigan’s public schools but desire a broader understanding of it and those who know little about the system but would like to learn more."

The 180-page book contains a combined total of more than 600 footnotes and endnotes, as well as an extensive index and table of contents, so that readers may use the text as a reference guide. Divided into seven major sections, the book describes how local, state and federal governments raise revenues with more than 30 taxes and other income sources, how the state Legislature appropriates monies for schools and, according to LaFaive, "how districts build school budgets from the ground up." Appendices detail the "Durant" lawsuits and describe an electronic module that allows users to create customized financial reports for individual conventional public school districts, intermediate school districts, charter public schools and the state as a whole, using revenue and expenditure data since 2003. The module may be found at www.mackinac.org/michiganschoolmoney.

"The Mackinac Center has made numerous education policy recommendations over the years," Olson noted. "This publication, however, does not recommend policies but attempts to explain existing ones. A thorough understanding of how current policies function is necessary for making sound school policy decisions, writing accurate news stories and assessing how well or poorly the system is working at the local, state and federal levels."

"A Michigan School Money Primer" is on the Web at www.mackinac.org/8534. Copies may be ordered by calling 989-631-0900.