Brown, Townsend Vote 'No' On Devastating Cuts to K-12, Higher Education

House budget plan puts Michigan's economic recovery, future at risk
Thursday, May 5, 2011

LANSING – State Representatives Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) and Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak) today voted against a destructive education budget plan that slashes $1.1 billion in K-12 funding and will devastate Michigan’s ability to prepare our children and students to compete for 21st century jobs. Under the plan, which passed the House and now heads to the Senate, community colleges and state universities will be cut by about 15 percent and Michigan’s K-12 schools will see cuts of at least $426 per student with some school districts being hit with cuts as large as $1,558 per student.

“I am deeply disappointed and saddened by the actions of this small number of Representatives that will have such a devastating impact on our children’s future,” Brown said. “This is the largest single annual cut in the history of education in Michigan. It’s tragic because the message from my constituents has been clear: Balancing the budget on the backs of our kids is unacceptable. Shame on these 57 people who have voted to hurt our kids and the people of Michigan.”

The plan the Republican-controlled House passed today cuts $1.1 billion from K-12 funding and slashes community colleges and state universities’ funding by about 15 percent. According to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency, if the budget for Fiscal Year 2012 was frozen at current spending levels – meaning no further cuts to school funding – there would be a surplus of $650 million in the School Aid Fund. Instead, House Republicans’ plan raids the School Aid Fund in order to give corporations a massive tax break.

House Republicans passed these deep education cuts today despite clear opposition by tens of thousands of residents over the past few months who spoke out in support of our schools at town hall meetings and rallies across the state. In a recent survey, 53 percent of residents said education funding should be the last place lawmakers cut, according to Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.

“The Republicans have manufactured a crisis in school funding by raiding the School Aid Budget, which has a surplus of $650 million, in order to pay for a massive tax cut for corporations,” Townsend said. “I know from talking to students, parents, teachers and administrators in my school districts that these cuts will have a devastating impact on our schools. After years of cuts, our schools have already eliminated waste and inefficiency and are now facing cuts to important programs and rising class size. This budget flies in the face of all evidence about achieving prosperity: the states that develop, attract and retain the smartest people win. This massive disinvestment in education is a giant step backward from making Michigan competitive in the new economy.”