Passed 19 to 19 in the Senate on April 27, 2011, the Senate version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011-2012 school aid budget. This would appropriate $12.398 billion, compared to $12.863 billion enacted the previous year, and $12.173 billion recommended by Gov. Rick Snyder. The bill would reduce the per-pupil foundation grant by $170, compared to a $300 reduction recommended by the Governor. Among other changes the budget would eliminate $55 million in so-called "categorical" funding for specific items, and $175 million in full-day per pupil grants paid to districts for half-day kindergartners. A provision was stripped out that would have required school employees to pay at least 80 percent of the cost of their health insurance fringe benefits, or cap the school district’s share at $13,000. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley cast the tie-breaking vote when seven Republicans voted in opposition (Brandenburg, Green, Hansen, Hildenbrand, Jones, Nofs, Rocca).
View All of Senate Bill 183: History, Amendments & Comments
The vote was 19 in favor, 19 against, and 0 not voting.
(Senate Roll Call 108)
Appropriations: 2011-2012 School Aid
|Booher (R)||Casperson (R)||Caswell (R)||Colbeck (R)||Emmons (R)|
|Hune (R)||Jansen (R)||Kahn (R)||Kowall (R)||Marleau (R)|
|Meekhof (R)||Moolenaar (R)||Pappageorge (R)||Pavlov (R)||Proos (R)|
|Richardville (R)||Robertson (R)||Schuitmaker (R)||Walker (R)|
|Anderson (D)||Bieda (D)||Gleason (D)||Gregory (D)||Hood (D)|
|Hopgood (D)||Hunter (D)||Johnson (D)||Smith (D)||Warren (D)|
|Whitmer (D)||Young (D)|
|Brandenburg (R)||Green (R)||Hansen (R)||Hildenbrand (R)||Jones (R)|
|Nofs (R)||Rocca (R)|
SENATE LEGISLATORS ALL VOTES
|n Anderson (D)||n Bieda (D)||Y Booher (R)||n Brandenburg (R)||Y Casperson (R)|
|Y Caswell (R)||Y Colbeck (R)||Y Emmons (R)||n Gleason (D)||n Green (R)|
|n Gregory (D)||n Hansen (R)||n Hildenbrand (R)||n Hood (D)||n Hopgood (D)|
|Y Hune (R)||n Hunter (D)||Y Jansen (R)||n Johnson (D)||n Jones (R)|
|Y Kahn (R)||Y Kowall (R)||Y Marleau (R)||Y Meekhof (R)||Y Moolenaar (R)|
|n Nofs (R)||Y Pappageorge (R)||Y Pavlov (R)||Y Proos (R)||Y Richardville (R)|
|Y Robertson (R)||n Rocca (R)||Y Schuitmaker (R)||n Smith (D)||Y Walker (R)|
|n Warren (D)||n Whitmer (D)||n Young (D)|
Senate Roll Call 108 on 2011 Senate Bill 183
Senators Kahn, Pappageorge and Pavlov asked and were granted unanimous consent to make statements and moved
that the statements be printed in the Journal.
The motion prevailed.
Senator Kahn’s statement is as follows:
In listening to the comments of my good friends on the other side of the aisle, I have to say, should they all be true, I
wouldn’t want to be voting for this bill either. They issued their comments with a lot of passion and heat. I think maybe
they ought to have a little might as well.
In regards the notion of stealing money from the School Aid Fund for other noneducation purposes, I think we ought
to start with looking at the Michigan Constitution, Article 9, Section 11: “There shall be established a state school aid
fund which shall be used exclusively for aid to school districts, higher education, and school employees’ retirement
systems, as provided by law.” This has not only been above the law of the land, but it has been part of our Constitution
since the 60s, and it was revisited in proposition A where it was restated.
Reality of education in the state of Michigan is that challenges are present in funding, and they are present with the
system itself. Dropout rates are a concern to us; a need for remedial education—kids goes to junior colleges, community
colleges, and universities; problems with our retirement system; the cost; the same for health care costs. All these come
together in the notion of what we are trying to do to construct a more effective health care system.
In the budgets that we are passing, there is an interrelationship between General Fund budgets and the School Aid Fund,
not just the fact that community colleges and higher education and universities are funded in part—large part—for many
years solely by the General Fund; but as well between what those General Fund dollars and the lack thereof means to our
people in terms of the roads and the potholes in them; the reductions that we have had over the past few years in
community mental health provisions; the reductions that we have seen in closures of Secretary of State offices.
So considering the School Aid Fund in isolation and demanding further funding to it doesn’t shed light on the
problem—the overall funding of government in the state of Michigan. What does then? Well, we have a $1.8 billion deficit.
I would invite my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that if they feel that there should be no reductions, come forth
with the amendments or the bills that would allow for further funding, and show me how we can do that in the spirit of
the last election. What was that election about? It was about jobs—jobs for all of us, for our children, and our grandchildren. In my case, hope for the future. The more that we impede our businesses from producing those jobs, the more
dependent our people will be on government handouts or hand-ups. I would hope they could be, but nonetheless ones we
can’t produce or afford.
And insofar, as the notion of shared sacrifice, is pilloried, over $30 billion worth of business tax credits are disappearing.
Some of our companies, fragile ones like Chrysler and General Motors, are going to be paying increased taxes as a result
of the changes that we are implementing. And so, today, as we are considering this bill and yesterday, as we considered
others, and later on today, as we consider more budget bills, send us your amendments if you think they can be approved,
improved. Send us your revenue sources if you feel they won’t hurt the citizens of the state of Michigan or your children
or grandchildren, and they will be considered.
Senator Pappageorge’s statement is as follows:
You know, one of the downsides to the present term-limited system in Michigan is we’re losing our institutional memory.
When Proposal A was being considered, they had to look at three things, not one. The first was what’ll we do in a rising
economy The second was what’ll we do in a falling economy? The third one was what’ll we do about capital requirements?
The decision then is all three are too tough, and we’re just going to do one, which is a rising economy. Guess what? We
don’t have one of those. We haven’t had it for some years. So the idea of jumping on Proposal A as the reason for more
money for anything is no longer valid. The premise was the economy is improving every year. So the reality is we have
to make adjustments.
Now, once again, this must be the fault of business. The only flaw I see is that we haven’t ordered business to collect
more taxes for us. Now if you want to order somebody to collect more taxes for us to cover the $1.2 billion in amendments
that were presented throughout the committees on these budgets, then go ahead and put a tax proposal out and quit talking
about revenue enhancement. The answer is tax increase. Use plain English, and stop saying it’s businesses’ fault. The flaw
here is we have 16 budgets. We have a total of $21 billion combined GF and K-12. Thirteen billion of that that $21 billion
is going to K-12 to include $218 million in General Fund. Read the bill. That leaves $8 billion for 15 budgets, and you
know what’s in those other 15 budgets—police protection, fire protection, the safety net. The idea that it’s OK; we’re just
going to do these one at a time and hammer the fact that we don’t have enough money. Come on, let’s get real here. We all
need to do our homework. We’re talking about priorities here. Does anyone doubt that our first priority is K-12—$13 billion
out of $21 billion and another $2 billion for higher ed? Is education the lower priority? What we were sent here to do is
express the priorities of our constituents—all of our constituents, not just police, fire, education, whatever—all of them.
Now with regard to education, I tell my educators that you have a great burden and obligation to make sure our students
are educated, but as citizens, as parents, you and the rest of us also have an obligation not to load our kids down with
debt. Those two things are in conflict, and we’re going to have to sort them out. So please stop taking these things one
at a time and bemoaning the fact that there isn’t enough money. Understand there isn’t enough money for anything, which
is why our job is so tough. How are we going to be fair is the question and demagoguing and blaming business or pick
something else isn’t going to get us there. Let’s just stop that. Let’s look at the facts and understand we have some painful
decisions to make here.
Senator Pavlov’s statement is as follows:
It is great to have a debate today on this floor, but I think what has been missing out of this entire conversation, while
we are singularly focused on dollars and budgets, there has to be recognition that our school systems need improvements
statewide, not just in urban areas, not in rural areas, but across the state.
To the previous speakers who suggested that they have not been included in the process, let me officially invite you to
the policy side of the conversation. We will be struggling for the next several years to develop a system in Michigan that
essentially rewards the students through a positive education. I would just suggest that you don’t have to be a member of
the education community to bring forth your reforms, where you think we are falling down in education and where you
think we are doing a great job. Let’s elevate the conversation beyond budgets. I mean everybody in this chamber recognizes
the fiscal crisis that this state is in. This budget not only reflects that, but it also reflects the fact that we have got to start
focusing this on student achievement, growth, proficiency, the things that are going to drive our economy into the next
I welcome all ideas and suggestions to the Education Committee, and if you have great reform ideas, please pass those
forward as we use those reforms to minimize the impact of some of these foundation cuts that are going out across the
state in everybody’s district. Let’s find a way of building a better education system. There are great minds, and there is
a lot passion that surrounds education in this state. I ask you to leverage that passion.
Please get involved in the policy side of this debate, and let’s get this budget behind us and work toward a stronger
education in the state of Michigan
Senators Whitmer, Hunter, Bieda, Hopgood, Young, Smith, Warren, Gregory, Anderson, Johnson, Hood and Gleason,
under their constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No. 183.
Senators Whitmer, Hopgood, Young, Smith, Warren, Gregory, Anderson, Bieda, Hunter, Johnson, Hood and Gleason
moved that the statements their made during the discussion of the bill be printed as their reasons for voting “no.”
The motion prevailed.
Senator Whitmer’s statement, in which Senators Hunter and Bieda concurred, is as follows:
As I sit here today, I can’t help but think back to a different era in this chamber. Believe it or not, there once was a
time when having the letter “R” after your name meant you were fiscally conservative but at the same time supported
critical investments that improved the lives of the people of Michigan—investments like education.
I ask you, where are the Milliken Republicans now? This chamber has a vast history of Senators like Gerald Ford, Vern
Ehlers, and Bill Milliken, to name a few, who would support reasonable taxes but still support basic services for
Michiganders who need it. I know this because my father was a Milliken Republican. I learned from him, as well as my
mother, a Frank Kelley Democrat, that we as elected officials should put the people’s interest before our own and before
any special interest.
The chair of the Education Committee said he believes that the state should fund schools as much as possible through
the foundation allowance, as “Proposal A intended.” I find this ironic since his budget flies in the face of Proposal A.
Now let me be clear. By supporting this budget, you are taking our School Aid Fund dollars from our school kids. You
are choosing businesses over kids. You are choosing corporate greed over kids in need. And, yes, you are choosing to
plummet roughly 150 school districts into bankruptcy—150 school districts immediately into bankruptcy. I can guarantee
you that those districts are in some of your hometowns. Maybe you don’t have kids in our public schools, but you should
think about your constituents who do. Think about that third-grader who attends Roseville Community Schools who will
now have 35 kids in his or her classroom. Think about that high school student from Comstock Public Schools who will
no longer be able to take that art or music class or participate in band after school. Think about that Grand Rapids School
District who will lose $928 per pupil which will certainly result in fewer textbooks and computers. How on earth will
they promote critical thinking and well-rounded education?
Another colleague of mine from the other side of the aisle stated everyone wants to share in the sacrifice, unless it’s
them. To which I would ask why, when times are tough, do you automatically take it out on students, seniors, and the
working poor? It would be one thing if we actually had a deficit in the School Aid Fund or if this was necessary to balance
the budget, but there is a surplus in the School Aid Fund. This cut that you are forcing on Michigan schools is because
you chose a business tax cut over our kids.
To the 1.5 million kids in state, their parents, their grandparents, and homeowners, members who support this budget
are saying they care more about business bottom lines than our kids, than their education, than the workforce of tomorrow.
Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish. I’ve got news for you. We, the Democratic Caucus, will not roll over when it
comes to our kids, our schools, and our communities. We will fight until the end to stave off these unnecessary cuts in
this School Aid Fund to save our schools and your schools from this crisis that the Governor and legislative Republicans
To the members in this chamber who think our caucus is the party of no, I would like to state as clearly as possible that
we are ready to talk about education reforms, but we refuse to have those conversations until we’ve insulated our kids
from being punished in the process. It’s time for you to live up to the promise of Proposal A and keep the school aid
dollars for our schools. But if you’re hellbent on this unprecedented, unproven tax cut for businesses, use the projected
surplus from the May Revenue Estimating Conference to fund it, not our kids’ education. You can’t move Michigan forward
if you sacrifice our workforce, the entrepreneurs, the business people of tomorrow—our kids—in the process.
Senator Hopgood’s statement is as follows:
I rise today to express my strong opposition to the School Aid Fund budget that is before us today. I would like to start
off by thanking the chair for his hard work and the subcommittee members for their hard work and their willingness to
listen to the concerns that were raised throughout the process. I do believe that this budget has been improved somewhat
over the initial proposal by the Governor.
However, I just can’t support this budget as it exists today. I can’t support the transfer of school aid funds to be used
for community colleges and universities. We must make school funding a priority. Transferring school aid funds to fill
holes in the General Fund budget created by giving tax breaks to businesses sends the wrong message.
The School Aid Fund is currently showing a surplus, and that money should be invested in our K-12 schools. This budget
makes an unnecessary and harmful $340 per-pupil cut to our schools. The budget also eliminates a number of funding
categoricals, including small class sizes and declining enrollments, that will have a detrimental impact to our schools.
I appreciate the monies that have been set aside for best practices, but I believe that the funding criteria for receiving these
funds should be clearly defined before we move forward on this budget process.
I hope that the majority caucus and the majority chair of the subcommittee will continue to work to improve this budget.
We need to do better for our students, and we need to turn down this budget today.
Senator Young’s statement is as follows:
I would first like to start with a quote. It is a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “The most effectual means of preventing
tyranny is to illuminate as far as practicable the minds of the people.” “Mass education is not only the best and surest
means of the preservation of liberty, but is also essential for the economic and social welfare of the people.” That wasn’t
Thomas Jefferson; that was Alexander and Alexander’s Law of Schools, Students and Teachers.
I rise today in adamant opposition to the School Aid budget before us today and to explain why I will be voting “no”
and why all of you should be as well. This entire budget plan is heinous from top to bottom, but the absolute worst piece
of legislation before us over the last two days is the School Aid budget. While Republicans strive to frame the Governor’s
budget as shared sacrifice to Michigan families, it is in actuality elitist and exploitative of our most vulnerable citizens—
our kids, our working families, and our seniors.
Under the Governor’s budget proposal, we are handing almost $2 billion in taxpayer money to big corporations, and
we are doing so at the expense of our state’s children, cutting school funding and endangering our children’s future. There
doesn’t appear to be a silver lining in the Republican’s sea of red, and there are certainly an array of flaws that have
people up in arms. As a great person once said, “The people are mad as hell, and they aren’t going to take it anymore.”
With every person I talk to about the budget, their No. 1 concern is K-12 education. School superintendents are worried.
Teachers and workers are concerned. Parents and students are scared. The Republican’s School Aid budget would drastically
cut school funding $340 per pupil, mortgaging our future to pay for corporate tax cuts. I like to call it continuing corporate
The Detroit School District is facing unprecedented challenges and a growing deficit. People in there are raping, pillaging,
robbing, looting, and stealing from the district. People are partying like it is 1999, spending like drunken sailors, and yes,
trying to throw money up in the school districts so they can make it rain. That is not what they are put there to do. What
do we do? We give the emergency manager more powers, but that is a different topic, and I am not going to go on that.
The budget before us today would take another $55.5 million when increased retiree costs and the loss of federal funds
are added to the per-pupil cut contained in this budget. Add to this the 5 percent across-the-board cut to the County Intermediate School District, a cut which makes the consolidation and cooperation efforts the Governor recommends even
more difficult to achieve.
This budget is also stealing $395.9 million from the School Aid Fund to divert it to other budget priorities. What
happened to the children being priority No. 1? This is not only morally reprehensible, but it also flies directly in the face
of the explicit intent of Michigan voters to make sure K-12 funding goes to K-12 schools. Who would have thought? If
we maintained school aid funding for what it was intended—our schools, we would not have to make these devastating
If the Legislature wasn’t so hellbent on ramming the Governor’s misguided plan forward to meet their arbitrary deadline,
we could do the sound thing and wait until the May Revenue Estimating Conference to see if there is more money
available for our schools. We could be leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table that our schools and our
students desperately need. This budget is also cutting funding for intermediate school districts, declining enrollment grants,
school bus inspections which keep our children safe every day on their way to and from school, and health, science, and
This budget makes me sick to my stomach, and I am appalled and ashamed by the actions of my colleagues to move
ahead with these draconian and disgusting cuts. The excitement and optimism I had coming into this legislative session
had faded just as the promises of bipartisanship, cooperation, and common-sense government from my colleagues have.
Let’s be clear. This is not my budget, and this is not our budget either. It is your budget, and if you are going to
continue down this path of cutting our kids and picking the pockets of our seniors and working families, my Democratic
colleagues and I are not going to vote for these bills. These bad decisions are all yours, and you are going to have to live
with the consequences for them. I hope you are prepared to live with them, and answer to your constituents back home
about what you did today.
I cannot believe anyone in this room in good conscience is comfortable doing this to our kids. It is completely counterintuitive to rebuilding our economy and preparing our children for the jobs of the future. It is a direct betrayal of our
responsibilities and our values as elected officials of this great state.
At numerous protests here at the Capitol and budget townhalls we have held around Michigan, my Democratic
colleagues and I have been engaging voters throughout the state. For my Republican counterparts, we have news for you.
Yes, Michigan is facing hard times. There’s no getting around that. The people of Michigan are all willing to do their part
to help turn things around if we all share in the pain fairly and equally. But we are not willing to raise taxes on seniors
and working families and slash education funding for our kids to pay for a $2 billion tax cut for business. That is fundamentally wrong, and it is not just. I thought we were in the Legislature so that whatever powerful is just, and whatever
is just is powerful, so that they can be merged together as one as we serve the people of Michigan, not big business and
not the corporations—the people.
I will be voting “no” on this bill and encourage each and every one of you to do the same as well. This bill is a threeheaded, screaming hydra. It must be beheaded, and we must do it today. Let’s vote this bill down.
Senator Smith’s statement is as follows:
Today, I rise in opposition to this budget. Our illustrious Governor has made a statement saying that teachers’ pay
should be structured on merit, which brings the question: What is the definition of merit? It seems, to me, with these cuts
that the good that our goal or the goal with this budget is trying to break teacher unions, destroy the profession, and
privatize education. I am going to say that one more time: privatize education. So I would like to ask my colleagues on
the other side of the aisle one question: Is that really what you are trying to go back to your constituents and say to them?
Senator Warren’s statement is as follows:
I rise today to express my strong opposition to the proposed School Aid budget. I recently had the opportunity to attend
a technology forum that was hosted by one of my local school districts. This district, like many of ours throughout this
state, already receives one of the lowest foundation allowances under the state’s formula and had struggled to make ends
meet every budget cycle, as their funding has been cut year after year. On this evening, however, hundreds of students
and parents, teachers and administrators were proud to gather together to show off the work they are doing to prepare
every child for the top-notch education that will prepare them for an increasingly-global society. One administrator put
it, “Our kids deserve the very best.” And they do; all of our kids do.
I am sad to say, however, that this event happened in spite of the decisions that have been made here in Lansing for
the past few years and not because of them. It happened because, even though we have continually cut education funding,
our teachers and administrators remain committed to funding our schools, to donating their time and energy during the
summer and after hours to make sure that they have the professional development that it takes to provide an ever-changing
curriculum and to address the ever-growing needs of our children with fewer and fewer resources.
Unfortunately, this commitment can only carry us so far. As a result of the draconian cuts that we are considering today,
I don’t need to tell you that such nights of celebration will not only be fewer and farther between, but our school districts
throughout the state will be faced with unfathomable decisions. Do they cut busing? Lay off hundreds of employees?
Close several school buildings? Increase class sizes to 35, 40, or possibly even 50 students? These are the decisions this body
is forcing them to make. More importantly, they are the conditions under which our children will be expected to learn.
In his Special Message on Education Reform this morning, Governor Snyder talked a lot about holding our teachers
and schools accountable. I am certain we will hear more about this in the months to come. The bottom line is that we
can test and evaluate all day long, but we must be accountable to our end of this bargain as well: accountable to passing a
budget that reflects our shared values; accountable to keeping our commitment to our children and our future; accountable
to raiding a $500 million surplus in the School Aid Fund to finance a nearly $2 billion tax break for big business. To the
good chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, we don’t need amendments to try to find the solution to the money
problem that we have in the School Aid Fund. We don’t have a money problem in the School Aid Fund. Are we truly not
above stealing from our kids’ piggy bank? I would hope not.
Let’s put our money where our mouth is, and put our children’s interest above special interests. Let’s set the example
for accountability in and out of the classroom.
Senator Gregory’s statement is as follows:
I also stand here in opposition to the School Aid budget before us and to explain why I’ll be voting “no” on this
legislation. One of the most important issues that I’ve heard around this state within these last couple months has been
the K-12 budget. The communities that I’ve visited, the coffee hours that I’ve held, in all of those places, there’s been a
lot of conversation about the reduction of the School Aid Fund monies to these districts. Most of these districts that I’ve
talked to say they’ll be devastated. Several of the school districts in my are, we know that they’re teetering right now, and
with these reductions if they go through, these school districts will then be devastated. If they’re devastated, if these kids
are now forced to fend and go to some other district, the question becomes, what happens to them during their educational
years? How do they get this back? How in the world can these kids now get back what they’ve lost because we’ve cut
the funding for them?
I will say this: in my district and to the parents and students in the 14th District, at least in three of the school districts
just to give you an idea of what these cuts will look like. In the Ferndale public schools system, there will be a $2,891,448 cut.
In the Southfield School District, it will be a $5,193,190 cut. In the Farmington Hills School District, there will be a
$7,478,166 cut. These are huge and tremendous cuts and certainly will devastate these school districts and now reduce
them to the point where they will not effectively be able to teach our children.
I’ve heard the question and I’ll go back and say that what Senator Young stated earlier. If we maintained our school
aid funding for what it was intended, our schools, we would not have to make these devastating cuts. But I guess one of
the major questions in my mind is what are our priorities in the state of Michigan? Is education a top priority or not? Our
children’s education—is that a priority? If not, it should be the priority, and I believe that reducing the education
allowance for these school districts indicates that we have lost sight of what our top priority should be. I believe we need
to get back to that. I will be voting “no” on this bill and asking all my colleagues to do the same.
I’d just like to say one final thing. We’re moving forward with this, and we’re also looking to reduce our business tax.
Who in the world would want to move to a state with an educational system that is so poor that kids are either going to
private schools, and the public schools that are supposed to educating are not doing the job they’re supposed be doing.
Who would want to move here, even if we reduce all of the business taxes. If you don’t have a good educational system,
nobody will want to move to your state, and nobody will want to educate their kids in those school systems.
Senator Anderson’s statement, in which Senator Bieda concurred, is as follows:
I think some of us were a little disappointed by the previous speaker in the fact that we didn’t hear any echoes of
“hello” around the chamber. I would just say if we do as he recommends, if we approve this budget as it is now, that
instead of saying “hello,” it may be more appropriate for the Senator from the 13th District to get up and tell our schoolchildren “goodbye.” That is what we are doing to those school districts.
I rise today in adamant opposition to the School Aid budget before us, and I would like to explain why I will be voting
“no” and why all of us here today should send the committee back to the drawing board and start working on this budget
This entire budget is terrible from top to bottom, but the absolute worst piece of legislation before us over the last two
days is the School Aid budget. I do appreciate the hard work the chair has done. I know that he has been given an
incredibly difficult job. I understand having to work with what the Governor has asked you to work with is difficult, but
I know he has made changes. I do believe he is a sincere person, and I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that he has
taken time to sit down with me and talk to me about the impact on some school districts that I represent.
I don’t believe that anyone sitting here campaigns for office and supports our kids’ education can possibly keep a
straight face saying that and voting for this. When we welcome schoolchildren to the chamber and we recognize them up
in the Gallery, will those of you who voted for this budget tell them what you did to their school districts and what you
did when you passed this budget? I sincerely doubt it.
Let’s be clear. There is no funding crisis or deficit with regard to our schools if we just stop the Governor’s raid on the
School Aid Fund. But with almost every single person I talk to about the budget, their No. 1 concern is funding
K-12 education. School superintendents are worried, teachers and workers are concerned, and parents and students are
scared. They’re scared of the impact of this budget and what this Legislature is trying to do to their budgets and how they
could possibly make adjustments to deal with the cuts.
This School Aid budget would drastically cut school funding by $340 per pupil, mortgaging our future for corporate
tax breaks. It is an issue of that. We are not seeing anything about how we are attacking businesses, as the previous speaker
likes to imply. We support businesses, but we also don’t support cutting taxes and eliminating taxes entirely for certain
groups of businesses. Folks are talking all the time about picking winners and losers. How can you say you are going to
tax one group but not tax another group of businesses? Those folks rely on our school districts to educate their future
workers, and they also have families and children who depend on good, strong school districts.
To the school districts I represent in the 6th District, this budget would mean a $2,408,060 cut to the Redford Union
Schools. That is a district that is already in serious trouble: a $2,233,315 cut to South Redford schools; a $4,296,294 cut to
Garden City schools, which is already under oversight; a $10,370,151 cut to Livonia Schools, a school district that has done
a phenomenal job in educating kids. On top of all of that, there is a whopping $15,085,400 cut to the Wayne-Westland
School District. These cuts would cripple our schools and their ability to give our kids the quality education they deserve.
This is not only morally reprehensible, but it also flies in the face of the explicit intent of Michigan voters to make
sure K-12 funding goes to K-12 schools. I will be voting “no” on this budget, and I urge each and everyone sitting here
to do so as well.
Senator Bieda’s statement is as follows:
I intend to vote “no” on this budget. I do appreciate the considerable amount of work and the challenge before us to
prepare this and all the other budgets. I think we can do better.
Over the course of the last several months, I have received many letters and phone calls from parents, teachers, school
administrators, and students who are dismayed and disheartened by the budget proposed for the funding of our schools.
One letter from a teacher, in particular, got me to think about exactly what this budget means and how it reflects upon us
as a state. It is about the priorities of our constituents.
High school students across Michigan are sitting in civics classes as we debate here today. They are learning about our
core democratic values of justice, equality, and the common good. I think we have to ask ourselves how this budget
reflects those values. Is it just that we ask schools to make further cuts and compromises to education, even after many
have already asked their teachers and staff to freeze their pay, increase their co-pays, and have consolidated services?
Is it equal that we ask schools to make deep cuts and sacrifice the quality of education so that businesses can have a
$2 billion tax break, even though the School Aid Fund is currently showing a surplus? The voters supported Proposal A
in 1994 with the understanding that the funds would be used for K-12 schools. Using these funds for any other purpose
violates the mandate of the voters. How do we help the common good when this budget is likely to make students less
prepared for college and less prepared to compete in the global job market?
Public schools have the ability to be the cornerstone of communities. Athletics, band concerts, and school plays enrich
not only the students, but also bring a community together. These activities that enrich our quality of life will be sacrificed
to create tax breaks that have no guarantee of creating jobs.
As a student of history, you can point to any great civilization in time and see common elements that made them all
great. Included among them are the arts, natural resources, military might, geography, and strong leadership. Two other
elements that were key to the success of many, including America and specifically Michigan, were a thriving middle class
and a strong education system. The budgets we have considered these past two days have been direct attacks on these
two pillars of our great civilization. Cutting education will not lead to economic growth nor help us develop as a society.
In fact, it will almost surely accomplish the exact opposite.
To the people of the 9th Senate District and Macomb County, this plan would mean more than $30 million in cuts to
the ten school districts I represent when increased retiree costs and loss of federal dollars are added to the per-pupil cut.
We must remember that it is the people who make this state great—people who develop technology; people who start
businesses; people who build civilizations. If we are not investing in people, in our students, then we are not investing in
our state’s future.
I urge my colleagues to use the School Aid Fund for only K-12, and eliminate this needless cut to education.
Senator Hunter’s statement, in which Senator Hood concurred, is as follows:
I rise on behalf of the citizens of the 5th Senate District who sent me here to serve. I would like to let them know that
this Republican plan before us would cut over $2 million to the great city of Inkster School District, almost $8 million
to the school district in Dearborn Heights, as well as an additional almost $56 million to the Detroit School District.
These cuts would decimate our schools, stack against our children the odds of achieving success, preparing to go to
college, as well as preparing for the jobs that you all claim, on the other side of the aisle, your tax cuts to big business
will dubiously create.
I just wanted to make an observation based on some of the things that I have heard on the other side, and I am going
to address two. They are both gentlemen; they are both fine legislators, and I mean this sincerely. But to the great
chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the Senator from the 32nd District, his question to this side of the aisle was,
“Where are your amendments?”—as if we didn’t offer amendments. It’s okay to show-off on the Senate floor, but you
know good and well that the Democrats on the Appropriations Committee submitted 32 amendments to the full committee
that were rejected summarily; 42 amendments at the subcommittee level which were rejected, again summarily. So the
answer to your question of where are our amendments? They are in the trash can that you threw them in, Mr. Chairman.
The great industrialist Henry Ford once said that he would sell a Model T in any color that a potential buyer wanted to
purchase, so long as it was black. I think you’re contention was just disingenuous as that. You have no intention of
working with Democrats in addressing our concerns and priorities, and you know that full well. I want that to be said and
Lastly, my good friend from the 13th District—and I call him a good friend—I enjoy listening to him lecture this
chamber about what we should know, what we should do, and sometimes what we should think. But he made the
comment, “It’s not all businesses’ fault.” It’s not businesses’ fault. Well, I don’t think we are faulting business. I think
we are faulting an ideology which holds that we should prioritize tax cuts that big businesses don’t need, that have not
proven to create any jobs, at the expense of our kids, our working families, and our senior citizens. I don’t know anybody
with common sense who will turn away a free gift that you are offering to the big business community. However, you will
have to excuse us as you fight tooth and nail every day to protect your main core constituency, and that is big business.
You will have to excuse us as we fight to protect ours—that’s our children, our working families across this great state,
and our senior citizens who need a Legislature that values them.
I would urge a “no” vote on this bill when we eventually vote on it.
Senator Johnson’s statement is as follows:
You know, it is interesting listening to everyone’s comments because one way, shape, fashion, or another, we all tend
to kind of see it the way we want to see it. The truth is, to the previous speaker, we can get beyond this budget by simply
voting it up or down, and that will happen in a few minutes. I don’t think anyone in here denies that school reform is
important, and that it is something that needs to take place.
The conversation that we are trying to have here is that there is an inadequacy on the part of this budget being proposed
related to some of the most egregious financial situations that these school districts find themselves in across this state,
and that further exasperating the problem are these cuts. As deep as these cuts go, with what is on the horizon, which is
sure to be a surplus in the fund, as pushed forward by the revenue estimation conference, and I think we all tend to agree
with that at this point. To act like that is not going to happen and that’s not real, I think, is the real distinguished statement
So I rise today, to voice my opposition to this K-12 budget. For those with all-encompassing power, it can be all too
easy to deny the poor what they need; instead, forcing them to foot the bill for corporate tax breaks. For those lacking
vision, it can be no big deal to throw our seniors and retirees under the bus and to make them help with that bill too. But
it takes a special king of arrogance, a unique brand of audacity, and a baffling lack of ability to grasp the logic behind
the virtues of investment for this Legislature to sell out the children of the state of Michigan.
The cuts made to Michigan’s K-12 education system in this budget are untenable. I represent several districts, and they
will all suffer under this budget. The Harper Woods School District will lose almost $800,000; the Highland Park City
Schools will lose roughly $1 million; the Hamtramck Public Schools will lose $2.1 million; the Grosse Point Public
Schools will be cut by $5.3 million; and the DPS will experience a cut of over $55 million on top of the money that this
state, by virtue of its own policies, has forced the DPS to eat in the last decade.
This isn’t about unions because unions have made concessions. This isn’t about teachers’ salaries and benefits because
they’ve given up much of that. It isn’t about political posturing because this should be a nonpartisan issue. Governor Snyder
said during his campaign that he wants to invest in education. He said he wanted to strengthen our entire educational
system, pre-K through 12, and today I think through 20. So why does his first budget propose a disinvestment in our
children and our collective future? This budget eliminates school bus inspections that keep our children safe to and from
school each day, while also getting rid of health, science, and engineering programs that help our students advance and
compete at the highest level against children across the globe.
Michiganders made their voices heard loud and clear when Proposal A was approved. Our voters want the School Aid
Fund used to fund aid to schools. It’s not a complicated idea, but perhaps what that statewide vote made even clearer was
that Michiganders do not want shortsighted politicians raiding the money from the School Aid Fund to support unrelated
and misguided policies.
Today, I stand with my fellow Democrats and each and every citizen across this state when I say that disinvesting in
our children’s education, and frankly, their future to fund big business corporate tax breaks to the tune of $1.8 billion is
both unrelated and misguided. I urge every parent in this chamber, as well as anyone else who cares about our children
and their education, to vote “no” on this budget.
Senator Hood’s statement is as follows:
I heard the comments of the good Senator from the 37th District. I just want to start by addressing that because he just
happened to speak before me. Not direct to him, but he was there.
We talked about solid footing. I don’t understand. If we are talking about solid footing and putting the state of
Michigan on solid footing, which we all want to do, but there are a lot of pieces to solid footing. Not only do we need
businesses to locate here and to maintain the businesses which are here, but when we start creating and expanding the
job opportunities which is ultimately, or what is ultimately being said and created by this budget, and in the same words,
we cut K-12 funding, higher education funding, so when we get to that point, where do we have an educated workforce?
Where do we have a top-notch workforce where we can go out and promote the state of Michigan to get companies and
businesses in this high-technological era which we are going into, stepping away, if you will, the auto industry? Even in
the auto industry to run an assembly line robot, you have to know how to deal with the computer. When they break down,
you have to have people who have the know-how to repair those computers and those robots. So if we start cutting
K-12 funding, how will we give those school teachers and those school districts the tools which they need to give us a
top-notch educational workforce because we are competing with countries across the world who are beating the crap out
of us in school education?
So when we start cutting it up, how are we going to get these companies to move here if we don’t have that? How
many companies and how many people will want to move?
Everybody wants a great school district, and when you go look for a home, what is the first thing you look at for your
kids? You look at how that school district performs. We all do it, and how it’s being funded.
This doesn’t do it. This does not do it. Back in the early ’70s, we sold—I wasn’t here and I don’t think anybody else
was here—but it was sold to the citizens of the state of Michigan that lottery monies, when the lottery was started, was
going to be used for K-12 funding. We promoted and there has been promotions statewide to say that these funds would
be used for K-12 funding. I hear it every day in community meetings, and I’m sure all of you do. So you can sit here and
not listen and play like you are not listening, but you know what I’m talking about. Your citizens asked you whether or
not lottery money was going for K-12 funding, and they say show me.
But in this budget, we send lottery money to the K-12 budget, but then we pull the old shell game and take it out on
the other side, taking K-12 funding money and put it into general funds; spending it everywhere else like higher education.
So it’s a little shell game that is going on. The folks who are pushing for these bills and this budget are fooling the people.
We talk about how having open conversations let the people know what is going on. It lets them know that you are telling
them that the money is going here, but it is actually going there.
To the Senator from the 25th District, I welcome and I thank your invitation to be a part of the process. I thought I
was going to be a part of the process when I was elected. I’m sure everybody else did too. But wrong. Didn’t happen—
not happening. I welcome that, and I will be a part of anything he wants to, but now we’re passing the budgets now. We
wanted to be a part of this process right now. I don’t want to be a part of the process after the ship has already sailed so
that you can then blame it on me. No. I wanted to be there originally. I wanted to be there at day one. That’s what my
citizens elected me to do, and I’m asking for that not just now, but it should have been happening all along. That is what
I talked about yesterday—being a part of the democratic process—democracy.
Let’s work together. We are where we are now, but I ask you for us not to take the easy way out and just make cuts.
It’s easy to sit in a room with everybody whom you agree with and make up decisions. That is the easy way to do it.
That’s why all of this process has failed for years because we have taken the easy way out. The hard way to do it and
the right way to do it is for people to sit in a room with those who have different philosophies, different ideas, and hash
it out in a civilized manner and come up with an idea that both parties can live with. I don’t mean parties, but both entities
can live with. That’s the hard way. That’s the right way to do it. But we take the easy way out in life. We just want to do
it the easy way; we’ll do it. But that’s not what we are here to do. That’s why 38 of us are here, not just one person
because if we do that, we just go to a dictatorship and let one person do it. We are all here, and we have people whom
we need to represent. We need not to lock that out. We must do that. We ask that.
I will not be supporting this legislation because of the $200 million which was taken out to cut higher education and
those things and the fooling that we are putting on the citizens of the state of Michigan.
Senator Gleason’s statement is as follows:
I, for one, had thought we had addressed this education responsibility in the wrong fashion for a number of years. I
have listened patiently to the previous speakers. Opinions aren’t necessarily fact, and many times, mine aren’t either. I
don’t know if we have truly fixed the obligation we have been presented with as we make this decision today.
It was mentioned about what the last election was about. I don’t remember anybody for office from Kalamazoo saying
they were going to take a couple million dollars out of their local schools or take the grant away from the class size
foundation. I don’t remember anybody who represents Alma saying that they were going to take money out of the
reduction in class sizes grant. I don’t remember anybody running for office last year in the state of Michigan saying they
were going to take money away from reduced class sizes.
I mentioned earlier that I thought it was very appropriate that we were presented with a chance to support that funding.
I know that we came a few votes short. I don’t think it was a good vote. I commend the Senator who offered that.
I represent a community, the city of Flint, and almost every one of those citizens did exactly what they were supposed
to do. The jobs got up and they left, many to different states and the rest of them to different countries. They did what
they were supposed to do. Now we are saying that we are done with one-time fixes. I can pretty much guarantee that
everything we are doing today is not going to fix next year’s trouble.
Let’s talk about Proposal A. I don’t think we should use Proposal A as a good example for funding schools. I don’t
believe it is a good way to tax homeowners either. We have all noticed what has happened the last few years when our
family’s tax rates were going up while their property value were going down. We were using the same referendum to fund
our schools. Now Flint, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Saginaw, and Alpena have all experienced reduced property
values. I haven’t seen one thing in this education budget that is going to address the funding requirement for our schools.
This is where I think we have to elevate our discussion and figure out how we are going to fund these schools.
I am ardently against this reduction of the class size grants. I honestly don’t know how we get teachers to go into some
schools and teach. When I look at the difficulties at Saginaw, Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, and others have, those teachers are
much better than I am. I don’t know why they take that job. Now we are going to burden them with more students in the
classrooms. Then we said that class size isn’t an answer. Change your seat for that teacher’s seat and see if that doesn’t
make a difference. Those teachers face high unemployment, rising crime, parents not being able to feed their kids the
right food, parents not being able to take them to the doctor, and parents trying to figure out some way to transport their
kids to and from school.
Now over $19 million is going to be taken out of these hard-to-serve schools. Some people say some of those folks
did things they shouldn’t have done, but it is pretty hard to find a kindergarten, first-, second-, or third-graders who has
done something they shouldn’t do. They haven’t done anything to be punished for by having more of them in the
classroom. I don’t agree with a lot of this budget, but I think taking away that class size grant is one of the most erroneous
measures we have undertaken.
It was said that our side picks on business. I can tell you, for one, that I don’t. I wish Buick, Chevrolet, and General Motors
were still in my town. I didn’t make that decision. I would have encouraged them to stay there. When I look at Gray and
Ductile Iron and several manufacturing plants up in Saginaw and mid-Michigan, those in Pontiac and Detroit, I know
there isn’t anyone in this room who would advocate for getting rid of those jobs.
I do think that education is our top priority. I just want to say this because I think it is important. This budget process
is just wrong. I’ve really admired Senator Pappageorge’s view of looking at things. He looks at things uniquely, and I
don’t think we have done the best we can with these budgets. We really haven’t answered the question about funding. We
kind of moved some numbers around, but we really haven’t addressed the major source of our funding—property values.
Proposal A, we haven’t addressed that. We haven’t stopped the downward spiral of property values in our state. I don’t
know if diminishing allocations to schools would do that.
When my wife and I were married, the first and most important discussion that we had was where were we going to
live and where were we going to send our kids. We chose Flushing because it was a good school. Unfortunately, Flushing
had the lowest foundation grant from the state, $7,200 per pupil compared to many schools that have thousands of dollars
more per pupil. We haven’t addressed the gap to the extent that we should as well.
The Genesee County students are competing against students in other counties to get thousands of dollars more per
pupil. Our kids in Genesee County are fighting for the same seats in the universities and colleges. The entry to those
higher education seats is the education in their grade schools. We haven’t done enough to diminish the gap. My kids in
my county and maybe yours as well have to fight for the seats at these universities and colleges. Further, they have to
fight for the global jobs when they compete with international students in this global economy.
So we have missed a lot of chances, but to say that this is not a one-time fix is erroneous. We are, indeed, kicking the
can down the road. We haven’t addressed the major issues in regard to Michigan’s education system. We have done the
same thing we have done every year since I have been in Lansing. We do have to get serious about this. I don’t think it
is fair if you have a kid in a different city and you are competing against one from a different area that gets $12,000 and
$13,000 per-pupil grants. When we get around to doing that stuff, then we will get around to addressing Michigan’s education
I want you to hear about my hometown. I picked this school along with my wife to send my kids to. With today’s action,
this is what my superintendent Tim Stein says: “In a matter of three years, under the Governor’s proposal, our district
goes from a highly-efficient, high-producing, and financially-stable district to a deficit district.” Tim Stein is a smart man,
well-respected, and highly-regarded. You are going to convert a well-respected, highly-regarded, good-producing school
district into one that is going to run a deficit.
In our Flint schools, struggling as they are, the Flint city school district is now going to contend with a $7.2 million
budget cut. I began my remarks saying I don’t know how in the world a teacher goes in some of these schools and
teaches. We say, well, it is a tough choice. You can go to Flushing, the nice one, or you can go into the city of Flint where
we deal with a high-crime concern.
Don’t tell me that we didn’t have a one-year fix. There is nothing in here that won’t have us back in a few months trying
to address this same concern, this same responsibility about funding public schools next year. Nothing we have done
today is going to address the concern in future years, but I think it is time that we should do that.