Where'd All the Money Go?

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

Michigan's K-12 school districts were promised an extra $210 by the state earlier this year for each and every child they teach.

Now the money's all but disappeared.

"I'd like to know what happened to it," parent Trish Dagle said.

"It does seem like they say there's going to be more money and more money and it never really seems to be the case," parent Grant Kellogg said.

So how could so much have changed in a few months and how could the state's esimates have been so far off?

"We made an error in the revenue estimates, there's no question about that," Gary Olson of the Senate Fiscal Agency told News 10 Friday.

Olson says Michigan's economy actually appeared to be growing in the months just before those estimates. And that's what the projections are largely based on.

"Past performance of the economy and state revenues," he said. "That's critically important."

Since then, Michigan's real estate market did worse than expected. And the auto industry hasn't done well. But couldn't that have been predicted?

"We did in May forecast continued market decline, with Ford and GM in particular. I think it's gotten a little bit worse," Olson said.

Still, some look at the timing of the estimates: good news before the election, bad news after.

"People will say whatever they need to get the votes," Kellogg said.

But Olson with the nonpartisan fiscal agency and Greg Bird in the governor's budget office say politics doesn't play a role.

"Just straight up estimates from economists," Bird said.

Still parents and school administrators are hoping for the money they were promised.

"You're playing with peoples' lives," Dagle said. "The economy, education. You're playing with everything. If you say something, you need to do it."

The state still has a chance to do it, if the governor and the legislature can find the millions needed in the next couple of months.


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