Irwin, Rutledge Slam House Republicans' Devastating Cuts to Schools, Colleges

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

LANSING - State Representatives Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) today blasted House Republicans for passing 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 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.

“Republicans hastily approved a budget plan for Michigan that will mean huge cuts for schools and higher education,” Irwin said. “This comes just a day after they approved a budget that eliminates or drastically reduces programs like Meals on Wheels, clothing allowances for indigent children, libraries, medication for the mentally ill, economic development initiatives and job training programs. House Republicans passed these budgets, with those cuts and many more, while raising taxes on seniors, low-income workers, those investing in urban renewal or historic preservation and even people who give charitable contributions to food banks and homeless shelters. At a time when our citizens are calling for shared sacrifice, there is plenty of sacrifice, but precious little sharing.”

The plan Republicans 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 were 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.

“This plan is unconscionable,” Rutledge said. “Michigan cannot afford to slash public education like this, without seriously compromising our future. Schools have been cut to the bone, and beyond, and communities are already feeling the effects. These deep cuts could devastate already struggling districts, and to make them at a time when the School Aid Fund is running a surplus is shameful.”