This Week & Next (Feb 13, 2015)

Governor Snyder Presents FY ’16 Budget
The big news this past week was Wednesday’s presentation by Governor Rick Snyder; Lt. Governor Brian Calley and John Roberts, State Budget Director; of the proposed $54 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16.  This the first step in the annual legislative budget process, which will likely conclude by June 1.

A few highlights of the proposed $13.9 billion FY ’16 School Aid Budget include the following:

  • $108 million increase to support a $75 bump in the per pupil foundation grant, raising the Minimum grant to $7,326 and the Basic grant to $8,174 per pupil. Unfortunately, this does nothing to reduce the current funding equity gap of $848 per pupil;
  • Adding insult to injury, we find it frustrating that only charter public schools are statutorily capped at the LOWEST per pupil foundation grant in the state;
  • $960 million (an increase of $217 million) “off the top” of the SAF to supplement the $2 billion in payments made by participating districts to cover the the Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL) in MPSERS, the state’s school employee retirement system. The total cost of UAL in MPSERS is $3 billion per year, or nearly 25% of the entire school aid budget;
  • $409 million (an increase of $100 million) for “at risk” funding to address early literacy and college-career readiness;
  • $250 million in Great Start Preschool Programs;
  • $75 million (an increase of $71 million) to support distressed districts;
  • $48 million in state/federal funds to support interventions to improve early literacy;
  • $30 million ($20 per pupil) for districts who implement “best practices”;
  • $25 million in technology infrastructure grants; and
  • $15 million to implement teacher and administrator evaluations.

From GLEP’s perspective, the biggest issue in the budget is to close the per-pupil funding equity gap and address the skyrocketing costs of MPSERS, the state’s teacher retirement program.

Beginning next week the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on School Aid will begin hearings on the FY 16 budget.  You can click here for an overview and here for the actual budget bill. We’ll be watching closely and reporting meaningful updates in this publication.

U.S. House Committee Passes NCLB Reauthorization Bill
HR 5, the Student Success Act, a bill to reauthorize ESEA/NCLB, was passed this week on a party-line vote in the House Education & Workforce Committee in Washington. Key features of the landmark piece of legislation include significantly scaling back the role of the federal government in overseeing public education, giving states more flexibility in designing accountability systems; consolidating dozens of federal education programs; and block grant funding to allow states to distribute federal money to districts and schools as they see fit. The U.S. Senate is also working to pass an update to ESEA/NCLB this month. Once any conflicting issues between the House and Senate versions have been ironed out, the bill will head to President Obama. There is considerable speculation as to whether the President will sign such a bill, however.

Double Dipping Passes in House Committee
The House Financial Liability Reform Committee had a hearing this past Wednesday on HB 4059 (Rep. Hughes), a bill to end the restrictions on double-dipping by retired school personnel under current law. Additional work still needs to be done so this bill impacts traditional and charter public schools evenly, and we’re hoping that work will continue on the House floor.

One Week Left to Apply for the State Superintendent Position
The official search for a new Superintendent of Public Instruction to replace the retiring Mike Flanagan is underway. The State Board of Education has hired Ray and Associates to manage the search process. The application deadline is February 19, 2015, with final interviews likely in mid-March. Initial salary is set at $200,000, and interested candidates can click here to learn more about the position and apply online.

Education Reform News Clips

GLEP in the News

Next Week

Monday, February 16

Tuesday, February 17

  • Introductory meetings with new legislators
  • House School Aid Subcommittee hearing to review FY ’16 School Aid Budget
  • Senate Education Committee
  • MSU vs. UM in B1G Basketball, 9 pm on ESPN (Go Green!!)

Wednesday, February 18

  • Citizens Research Council webinar re: FY ’16 Executive Budget

Thursday, February 19

  • House Education Committee
  • Introductory meetings with new legislators

Friday, February 20

Do you support what GLEP is doing to improve education in Michigan? Please consider making a donation to help us continue our efforts, and all contributions are very much appreciated!!


Gary G. Naeyaert
Executive Director