News Story

Reality Check: Michigan Public Schools Getting More Money For Fewer Students

State spending up $800 million, student enrollment down 2.4 percent

A metro Detroit newspaper and the Senate Minority Leader said state funding cuts are a reason some public school districts are in financial distress.

Yet, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency, K-12 public education has received hundreds of millions of dollars more the past few years despite there being a drop in the number of students the past three years.

The Detroit Free Press reported in a Jan. 15 article that 50 school districts and charter public schools ended 2012-13 in deficit "largely because of declining enrollment and the impact of state funding cuts." 

MLive ran a Jan. 15 article that quoted Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, stating that Gov. Rick Snyder has "cut $2 billion from public education over his first three years in office."

Since Gov. Snyder has been in office, the state has passed school aid budgets that devote $798.9 million more in state resources to school funding, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. The school aid budgets have increased 7.4 percent from $10.8 billion to $11.6 billion from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2014. At the same time, total student enrollment was down 2.4 percent over the period.

If you include K-12, community colleges and higher education, state funding has increased 5.5 percent from $12.6 billion in fiscal 2011 to $13.3 billion in 2014. Overall, the total state budget dropped from $48.8 billion to $48.7 billion over that period. 

"There is a continual drumbeat of people bemoaning public education cuts," said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "It would be nice if they actually looked at the data."

The state lists 50 school districts in deficit in 2012-13, one more than the previous year. However, two of the 50 districts in deficit have been dissolved and two others were consolidated into one district.

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.