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Democrats: Don’t tap School Aid Fund to balance budget

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio
The budget deficit might not be as bad as forecasted, Democrats say the Legislature can use the good news to better fund schools.

It appears Michigan may be in for a revenue windfall of about $500 million dollars more than  it was expected to take  in this year.

The state Senate Democratic leader says Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature should use that money to avert cuts to schools.

The state Senate Democratic leader is calling for protections in the Michigan Constitution against using the School Aid Fund for any purpose other than K-through-12 education.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer says she’s looking for any way she can to avert school aid cuts as high as $470 per student.

She wants the state to use an expected windfall to reduce or eliminate the cuts. And she will call for an amendment that would prohibit tapping the School Aid Fund to pay for universities or anything other than K-through-12 education:

"It's critical that the School Aid Fund dollars be used for our schools. Right now, Republicans have the opportunity to do the right thing because revenue estimates are coming in stronger, and so they can actually make their books balance and do the right thing," said Whitmer.

Republican budget plans call for cuts of anywhere from $285 to $470 per student.

Whitmer intends to submit a proposed amendment to the state constitution tomorrow.

It would only allow the School Aid Fund to be used for K-through-12 education, but she cannot get the measure on the ballot without substantial support from Republican lawmakers.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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