Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lack Of Budget Cuts Off Federal Funds to Schools

UPDATE: Never fails. The second I post, the DNews has a headline saying they have agreed on a continuation for K-12. No details yet.

When we last left our hapless Legislature, they were walking out the door to enjoy a four-day weekend after having failed on passing a continuation budget on school aid. The Senate had cut the funding by $218 per pupil, the House restored it to current levels - and there it sits to this hour, as far as I know.

This morning, the Freep indicated this is already costing school districts, some having to borrow money because the state government cannot distribute federal funds without a budget in place.

The money pays for such programs as special education, school lunches and after-school classes. It's paid weekly, and some districts may have to borrow to cover costs.

Among them is Garden City Public Schools, which is operating with a deficit and must now borrow money for the programs and pay interest on it, said Superintendent Michelle Cline.

The withheld federal money could affect 2,000 employees of Detroit Public Schools, including 1,000 teachers who could be laid off, said district spokesman Steve Wasko. He said Detroit schools receive $10 million to $20 million a month in federal money for preschool, after-school and reading programs and security guards.

According to Tim "Wedgie" Melton, they must approve at least a temporary budget by Saturday for the state to meet its regular Oct. 20th payment to schools.

The House is supposed to vote on revenue today according to reports, although this Freep link says they are still writing the bills, so who knows. Unfortunately, the EITC is the tax credit that they mention the most for a freeze, but maybe that is better than total elimination at this point. Other tax credits are looking at a trim, details on that are sketchy. Tobacco is on the hit list again as well. This new revenue will go to mitigating cuts to K-12, the Promise Scholarships, health care and revenue sharing to cities - all the big items. Grand Valley is now billing students for the loss of the Promise Scholarships - so, tick tock, people.

Governor Granholm has skipped the opening of the Midwestern Governor's Association conference on energy jobs being held in Detroit to stay in Lansing and deal with this mess. She no happy about that.

... and last but certainly not least, the MI Senate Dems tell us in a tweet that Senate Republicans will not take up drug company immunity until the end of November. If anyone thinks they will take it up at all, well, I've got this bridge in Detroit you might be interested in...

That's the latest. Stay tuned for further updates.