October 20, 2009 / 8:29 PM / 10 years ago

Deep funding cuts for schools in Michigan budget

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Michigan school districts face deep spending cuts in fiscal year 2010 as state revenue continues to sink due to the state’s ailing economy.

“We’re very fearful,” said Don Wotruba, deputy director of the Michigan Association of School Boards on Tuesday, adding that districts have already turned to layoffs and bigger class sizes and now must deal with a $165 reduction in per pupil funding.

About 100 of the state’s 551 districts were on track to spend more money than they have at the end of the school year and that number could rise if the state cuts schools further, according to Wotruba.

Governor Jennifer Granholm signed the $12.9 billion school aid fund budget into law on Monday, saying that it was inadequately funded.

“While my approval of this budget will allow public schools to keep operating and school districts to continue making scheduled bond payments, the legislature has much more work to do to complete a balanced funding plan for our schools,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

She used her veto power to cut another $54 million from the spending plan and warned that more cuts to schools may be coming if revenue continues to fall.

The budget marks a 2.9 percent, or $382 million, drop in funding from the fiscal 2009 school aid budget, according to the governor’s office.

Meanwhile, the final six fiscal 2010 budget bills were sent to Granholm on Tuesday by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Bishop said that any line-item vetoes will essentially wipe out programs.

“Do not veto portions of these budgets with the expectation that money will be reappropriated at a later date to fund the vetoed programs,” he wrote in a letter to Granholm.

“There is not sufficient support in the Senate Republican caucus for tax increases and for you to think otherwise is a mistake,” Bishop added.

In addition to the school funding bill, Granholm has signed other budget bills she received earlier this month into law.

While Michigan began fiscal 2010 on October 1, the state has been operating under a temporary budget that expires October 31.

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