Budget Surplus Headed for School Fund

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The Michigan House overwhelmingly approved moving $99.5 million from the state's general fund to its school aid fund to help resolve a projected deficit.

The bill, approved 102-7, now goes to the Senate. It must be approved by the Senate and signed by the governor by the end of the year when the Legislature adjourns, or it has to be reintroduced next year.

The transfer would help shore up the school aid budget that took effect Oct. 1 and which economists project is between $110 million and $119 million in the red.

Republican legislative leaders said last week they wanted to address this year's school aid shortfall before adjourning for the year.

But Rep. Mickey Mortimer, R-Horton, argued that lawmakers should wait on the transfer until after January's revenue estimating conference when they know how much the school aid fund is short.

"This makes no financial sense to do this right now," Mortimer said. "We're just guessing."

The legislation also resolves a deficit in the school aid fund for the budget year that ended in September. It would transfer a general fund surplus, expected to be about $20 million, to the school aid fund.

House Republican Policy analysts expect last year's school aid fund to be about $20 million short.

The legislation also prohibits intermediate school districts from being reimbursed for their joint employment arrangements with local districts unless the Department of Education determines they increase efficiency or significantly save money.

A handful of lawmakers voted against the bill because of the ISD provision, arguing that it would leave their intermediate school districts without a reimbursement they were expecting.

Those voting against the bill were Lauren Hager of Port Huron, Doug Hart of Rockford, Bill Huizenga of Zeeland, Michael Sak of Grand Rapids, Barb Vander Veen of Allendale, Bill Van Regenmorter of Hudsonville, and Mortimer. Rep. Artina Tinsley Hardman, D-Detroit, was absent and didn't vote.

The measure was added because a number of House members were worried that some ISDs are over-charging the state for their shared employment arrangements.


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