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Public education budget a good place to start

Although it seemed to satisfy few, the budget underwriting state support for public schools was approved by the Michigan Legislature late last week. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has complained the funding was insufficient to the needs districts face, is expected to sign the measure into law.

The minimum per-pupil grant, which most schools receive, would increase from $7,871 to $8,111, The Associated Press reported, or about 3%.

AP noted that wealthier districts would get $8,529, a 1.4% hike, or $120 more than the current $8,409 allotment. Districts’ reimbursements for special education would rise by 2 percentage points, or $60 million.

The AP coverage included comments from a pair of key lawmakers deeply involved in budget negotiations.

“This budget, when you consider the status quo, funds education at a truly fantastic level,” said Rep. Aaron Miller, a Sturgis Republican.

But Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. of East Lansing — the top Democrat on the Senate budget committee — criticized GOP lawmakers for touting “record” spending on schools, likening it to a legislative “participation medal” because tax revenue routinely rises due to inflation.

“This is largely a status quo budget. It’s basically an inflationary increase. It doesn’t do much more than that,” he said.

Would we have liked to see a more substantial increase in spending for education? Of course. But 3% isn’t bad given the condition of the state’s economy. Put another way, it’s a place to start.

— The Mining Journal (Marquette)

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