Michigan Senate Joins State House in Unveiling Historic Budget Proposals
For the first time in Michigan’s history, state Senate leaders are proposing to create a much fairer school funding formula while making significant investments in public education.
The transformation would be significant, especially for students who have long been impacted by education inequities – children from low-income backgrounds, Black, Latino and Arab-American students, rural students, English Learners, students with disabilities and those living in concentrated poverty.
Last week, the House and Senate began advancing their versions of the Fiscal Year ‘24 school aid budget. On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 voted to approve Senate Bill 173 which would make major education investments in public education and most importantly, target money towards students who have long been underserved.
Alice Thompson, chair of the education committee of the Detroit NAACP, is among the prominent Michigan leaders who are applauding the Senate proposal, which would create an Opportunity Index in the state school funding system. The Index would change the funding system to better address the needs of students from low-income backgrounds.
“This is a historic moment for Michigan,” says Amber Arellano, one of three co-chairs of the statewide coalition, the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity (MPEO). “This is the first proposal ever that more thoughtfully considers the needs of students living in the highest concentrations of poverty. If passed, it would create greater opportunity and support for the diverse needs of all students and school districts.”
Thompson, Arellano and Mike Jandernoa, a Grand Rapids business and philanthropic leader, are the co-chairs of the MPEO coalition, which recently held an Advocacy Day in Lansing.
“I join Alice, Mike and our partners in the growing MPEO coalition in championing the Senate budget proposal,” said Arellano. “Michigan has one of America’s most regressive school funding formulas. This proposal is the beginning of turning around Michigan’s devastating lack of investment in students who are the most under-resourced.”
After years of tragic underinvestment in English Learners, students who qualify for “at-risk” funding, and students with disabilities, the state Senate budget proposes to:
- Double the amount of money for English Learners;
- Include a $173 million increase in the at-risk line item;
- Increase the foundation allowance to $9,700 per student.
- Provide 100 percent of the foundation allowance for students with disabilities;
- $100 million for the Governor’s MI Kids Back on Track program.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid met on Thursday and reported their budget, as well. House Bill 4286 proposes an historic increase in funding to the at-risk line item by adding $274 million, but does not include the Opportunity Index.
MPEO leaders praised the budget proposal for significantly investing more for students who qualify for at-risk funding, while championing greater research-backed weights to support their needs. In addition, the House budget also proposes:
- $150 million in new funding to address transportation costs.
- Increase funding to train teachers in early literacy.
- Increase the foundation allowance to $9,516.
$300 million for the Governor’s MI Kids Back on Track Program.