News Story

Repeating Inaccurate Claim About School Funding Does Not Make It True

Democrat Mark Schauer repeats false claim at stop in West Bloomfield, which gets $357 more per student this year

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer recently visited the West Bloomfield School District with a familiar message: Michigan schools, like West Bloomfield, are receiving less and less money.

Except, according to state data, neither statement Schauer made April 23 was accurate.

The Oakland Press reported Schauer's claims of a reduction in spending on K-12 education without challenging them.

"Public education has been cut dramatically, it's been systematically privatized," said Schauer, walking alongside running mate Lisa Brown, Oakland County's clerk. "What I've seen here at (West Bloomfield High School) is amazing. They're doing more with less, they've felt the state budget cuts, but there are great students, incredible teachers that are motivated and highly trained and we need to support them more."

Overall, state and federal funding for K-12 education has increased from $12.7 billion in 2011-12 to $13.4 billion in 2013-14, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. State dollars spent on K-12 education have increased every year Gov. Rick Snyder has been in office, going from $11.01 billion in 2011-12 and $11.21 billion in 2012-13 to $11.6 billion in 2013-14, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. 

And, according to state financial documents, the West Bloomfield School district receives about $357 more per student this school year than it did in 2010-11, which was Gov. Jennifer Granholm's last budget. 

The West Bloomfield School District has lost just under 800 students since 2010-11.

"After Michigan Capitol Confidential pointed the way, many media outlets have exposed as bunk the claim that public school spending has been cut in this state," said Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "Therefore, this is beginning to look like a deliberate political 'big lie' campaign, based on the notion that the truth can get lost when a false claim is repeated often enough."

Schauer, the state's teachers unions and some others have claimed that Gov. Snyder has cut $1 billion in education funding. But in doing so they are only counting the state foundation allowance and ignoring other state aid that school districts receive.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan spending per pupil is about the middle of the pack. Adjusted for per capital income, the state spends the 8th most nationwide.

Oakland Press reporter John Turk did not respond to a request for comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.