School Deficit Larger Than Feared

By: John Tramontana Email
By: John Tramontana Email

The Senate was able to avoid making K-12 cuts as they trimmed another $300 million from the budget Tuesday. But schools aren't off the chopping block yet. New estimates indicate public education could have another shortfall -- this one well over $100 million.

"That could raise anywhere from $100 to $150 million," said state budget office spokesman Greg Bird. "We still could see a significant shortfall in the school aid fund that needs to be taken care of and we hope very quickly."

That shortfall would be added to the $62 million the school aid fund is still in the hole. Republicans in the Senate have proposed a $34 per pupil cut but that was rejected by the house.

"We've got to let these schools know where they stand," said Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop.

He says schools can no longer be kept in limbo and a compromise must be reached.

"It's just not fair for us to continue down this path where they don't know where they stand as far as the budget goes."

Governor Granholm and legislators say they're trying to find the money elsewhere in order to avoid education cuts. Part of that plan includes trimming parts of programs.

"It might be nickel and diming. I think, in fact it is. But the nickels and dimes add up," Sen. Bishop said.

Some of that spare change comes from the Governor's executive order to cut the transportation budget. More than 100 state vehicles will be sold from the fleet and gas mileage reimbursement will be cut from 48 cents to 32 cents per mile.

"We expect the elimination of premium mileage to save the state $2.8 million," said Lisa Webb Sharpe, the Director of the Department of Management and Budget. "You get a few million here and a few million there and you're inching toward solving the budget crisis."

With more than $300 million left to cut in the coming month, inching toward a solution may be cutting it close.


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