News and Analysis

Pages and stories with news content.

Governor to sign school aid bill for this year; hole remains

The state Senate yesterday gave its approval to a bill that closes about $300 million of the school-aid deficit for this year, even though it fails to account for $62 million of the deficit originally projected in January. State budget officials say Governor Granholm will sign the bill. Left unresolved is the question of how the growing school aid deficit, now reckoned to be an additional $150 million below the mark, will be handled.

House acts in late session; now the horsetrading begins

In a late night session so tense that it degenerated into ‘trash talking,’ the state House voted last night not to make per pupil cuts to public schools. While the vote on school aid was unusually bi-partisan, other bills considered last night – aimed at closing the State’s general fund deficit – were voted up or down on nearly straight party lines and occasioned the verbal tussling.

See the full story on the MIPFS web site!

Tax revenues continue to fall; schools warned of cuts

The news just keeps getting better and better. State officials are forecasting that state tax revenue for the rest of the year will end up even below the estimates which were revised downward in January. The state budget director has notified school districts across the state that, unless the Legislature agrees on measures to close the growing school funding gap, the governor will have no choice but to order substantial cuts to school funding – on the order of $90 to $125 per pupil.

House Dems propose smaller K12 increase, bigger equity payment, for FY08

Departing from the Governor’s proposals, House Democrats have moved a bill that would increase foundation allowances by only $100 for next year, but give most districts an additional $100 equity payment.

Governor’s proposal trimmed
The amended version of HB4359, the School Aid appropriations bill for fiscal 2008, passed the School Aid and Education Appropriations subcommittee on a party line vote. The bill increases overall spending on school aid by $295 million compared to this year, but comes in $42 million short of the Governor’s original recommendation.

Union, Board approve middle school restructuring and buy-out plans

In what must be one of the shortest public meetings on record, the AAPS Board of Education received the news that the Ann Arbor teacher’s union had approved changes in their contract necessary to restructure the middle schools, and then went ahead and gave their approval to the agreement tonight as well.

Budget cutting round 1: Middle School restructuring

As part of its efforts to meet the expected deficits over the next two years, the AAPS launched an initiative to restructure the middle school program and curriculum so as to find about $2 million in cost savings. They started with the middle schools because they have the highest cost of operation per student. Cutting funding from programs that do not have a lot of leeway is never a desirable thing, but it is clear that the district will be under a lot of budget pressure for some time to come.

The question is, are the current proposals the best solution under the circumstances?

What's next? Budget struggle moves to the House

In a deft reversal of spin, Republican lawmakers and allied “opinion leaders” are pushing the notion that Senate Republicans have taken leadership on the budget question, including school aid, by passing their two appropriations bills last week. It’s the Democrats and the Governor, they argue, who should be called on the carpet for not presenting their plans. But it is useful to recall that the Republican plan remained secret until just hours before their two key bills, one cutting general state spending and the other shaving back school aid funds, were pushed to a quick vote on the floor of the Senate. Gov. Granholm’s original plan, which relied on new and restructured taxes but did not cut school funding, was summarily killed off in the upper house. This leaves the Republican leadership in the enviable position of being the “spoiler” on budget issues, able to poke holes and make points without having to take any heat for potential tax increases.

How much was that deficit again?

25 MarchNumbers, numbers, everywhere. Lots of numbers have been tossed around — $377 million deficit in the School Aid Fund, $220 per pupil reduction, and more — but when you look at the details these numbers don’t always seem to add up. Thanks to non-partisan staffers in Lansing (at the Senate and House Fiscal Agencies), information is available on the web that helps clear up some of the confusion, even if the underlying problems remain unchanged.

Budget negotiaions collapse; Senate rams through alternative

22 March — Negotiations among Democratic and Republican legislative leaders and the Governor broke down this afternoon after the two sides were unable to find common ground about new revenue or addressing both fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008 at the same time. Shortly afterward, Gov. Granholm issued a new Executive Order that specified $344 million in cuts and savings from the General Fund portion of the budget. Republican lawmakers in the Senate made good on their promise to plug the budget hole without raising taxes. They finally went public with their list of additional cuts, pushing through legislation that cut a further $310 million from the General Fund budget and found reductions for the full amount of the School Aid Fund deficit – $377 million – while only cutting foundation allowances for schools by $57 million, or $34 per pupil.

Budget talks continue behind closed doors; income tax looked at

21 March — The top-level negotiations among the Granholm administration and Democratic and Republican legislative leaders continued today, but news was thin on the ground. Press reports indicate that the largest sticking point so far was the Republican caucus’ insistence that no revenue measures be considered for balancing the FY07 budget, and keeping the problem of the current fiscal year separate from plans for next year (fiscal 2008).