Nov 17, 2003
The State of Michigan announced November 7 that it will cut 350 million dollars from the money it gives to state school districts this year.
The cut, which amounts to $196 per student, is to make up for what they say is a shortfall in the state's School Aid Fund.
These cuts from the state will mean fewer teachers, reduced school programs, deteriorating facilities – in other words, further damage to the education of hundreds of thousands of Michigan students.
Detroit alone, with 157,000 students, stands to lose 30 million dollars.
School districts in poor and working class areas will suffer the most. Many wealthy school districts have socked away "rainy day" funds totalling 1.8 billion dollars that they can draw from for a while. The working class districts, of course, do not have that luxury.
The Michigan Education Association, one of the two big teacher federations in the state, suggests that more of the 350 million dollars in proposed cuts should come from those wealthy districts with the rainy day funds. They also propose expanding the six% sales tax to include services not currently covered by the tax.
But either one of these proposals would still mean an attack – on the education of Michigan's children and the living standards of its working people.
Redistributing the cuts still means accepting cuts in the school budget. What sense does it make for a teacher's union to accept any cuts at all?
Just last July, as they put together the state budget, Governor Granholm and the legislature stated very loudly and clearly that education was the one big thing they would not cut.
They say now that they have no choice – just like they say with every other cut to services and state worker pay.
Of course there is a choice – and they've made theirs. They continue to give big handouts to corporations, even as they talk about "budget deficits." For example, the Michigan Department of Treasury, in its Tax Expenditures Report, reports that the INCREASES in tax breaks to businesses will cost the state almost one BILLION dollars in 2004. That's just the new tax breaks, not to mention all the ones already in place.
Not only could that one billion dollars cover the 350 million dollar "shortfall" in the state's school fund, it could pay for lots of other cuts to state services.
That's where the state's money would go if government were established in the interest of the population.