(Editor's note: A correction has been made to this story to reflect the correct reduction in education spending voted by the state Senate. The Senate agreed to education spending cuts of $340 per pupil, compared to the $470 in per-pupil cuts proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder.)
The GOP-controlled state Senate gave public schools back more than one-quarter of Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed cuts for K-12 education when it passed Senate Bill 183 on Wednesday.
Seven Republicans voted against the bill, creating a 19-19 tie. The bill only passed when Lt. Gov. Brian Calley voted as the tiebreaker.
Snyder had recommended a $300 per-pupil cut and did not rescind another $170 per-pupil cut that was put into place in 2010 but was temporarily replaced by federal stimulus money. The Senate vote adopted only the $170 per-pupil cut from 2010 and an additional $170 per-pupil cut — $130 less in per-pupil reductions than Gov. Snyder had proposed.
The House is still working on its own version of this budget, which so far appears much closer to what Gov. Snyder has proposed.
Republican Sens. Jack Brandenburg, Mike Green, Goeff Hansen, Dave Hildenbrand, Rick Jones, Mike Nofs and Tony Rocca all voted against passing the bill.
Sen. Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he didn’t like the Senate’s bill because it treated all K-12 schools the same way.
“There are better ways to reform education,” Jones said. “We could have a statewide teacher pay scale. A lot of reforms like that could be done instead of making these deep cuts.”
Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said one statewide pay scale would be impractical due to the disparity in pay around the state. For example, a teacher with four years of experience and a bachelor’s degree in Eau Claire makes $32,886 while the same teacher would make $48,490 in Birmingham.
State Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, said he thinks the House will keep the full $470 per-pupil cuts Gov. Snyder proposed and the issue will be resolved in conference committee when a final bill is created.
“We aren’t addressing the issue of the cost of education in Michigan if we just continue to fund it as it is,” Agema said. “If we continue to pay for the teachers pay and benefits, we are never going to get out of this.”
Brandenburg, Green, Hansen, Nofs and Rocca didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.
Hildenbrand released a statement that read: “I commend the Senate Appropriations committee for their work on SB 183, the 2012 K-12 school aid budget over the last couple of months. The Senate floor vote is one step in a long budget process, and the bill is literally a work in progress. I look forward to continuing to work on this budget as it moves through the legislative process to ensure we have the best product for our students, teachers, and taxpayers. “