Michigan Schools Underfunded - If You Don’t Count All The Funding Increases

Democrats ignoring the extra tax dollars flowing to schools

Michigan House Minority Leader Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, recently touted a new report on school finance that claims Michigan’s public schools are underfunded. The report was released by the School Finance Research Collaborative and was created by Colorado’s APA Consulting.

Singh released a statement that read, “Our schools have struggled ever since Republicans made massive funding cuts in 2011. ... Now that we have more state dollars to spend, we should put them where they matter most: in our kids’ education.”

Singh sent an email that read: "Gov. Snyder and Legislative Republicans took away significant resources going to public schools beginning in 2011 when they increased the amount taken out of the School Aid Fund to fund non K-12 services. In Fiscal Year 2017-18, more than $635,000,000 from the School Aid Fund was diverted to non K-12 activities. The drastic underfunding of Michigan K-12 schools was highlighted by the recent report commissioned by the Michigan School Finance Collaborative, a coalition of business and education leaders of Michigan, that showed Michigan is underfunding our classrooms by nearly $2000 per student."

ForTheRecord says: Rep. Singh makes two assertions that appear to contradict the facts:

  • First, he said, a Republican-controlled Legislature and governor enacted massive funding cuts in 2011. In the 2010-11 fiscal year, under the final budget signed by outgoing Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the state of Michigan collected and spent $26.3 billion (not counting local or federal money).

    The state budget for the following 2011-12 fiscal year — the first passed by GOP majorities in both the House and Senate and signed by newly elected Republican Gov. Rick Snyder – raised and spent $27.3 billion in the state. That was a $1 billion increase from the last budget of a Democratic governor. The budget included a $285 million increase in state spending on public schools.

  • Second, Singh said, the state should now spend more on K-12 education since its annual tax and fee collections are going up. Except, Michigan has been spending more on schools every year since Snyder signed his first budget, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. State spending on K-12 education (not including local or federal money) increased from $11.1 billion from Snyder’s first budget in 2011-12 to $12.9 billion in the current fiscal year. That’s a $1.8 billion increase in funding for public schools over a six-year span.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Rep. Singh's comments.

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.