Friday, May 21, 2010

Michigan School Districts Safe From Further Budget Cuts This Year and 2011

This is some excellent news, unless Senate Republicans want to insist that we make the cuts anyway, even after we have the funding.

Nah, they aren't that crazy, are they? Here are the numbers, fresh from the AP:

Michigan school districts are safe from further cuts this school year and likely will escape budget cuts next year as well, state economists said Friday.

The directors of the House and Senate fiscal agencies and state Treasurer Robert Kleine agreed Friday after a revenue estimating conference that school aid revenue is up $292 million above January estimates. General fund revenue, however, is down nearly $244 million below estimates because income and business tax revenue has come in lower than expected.

Senate Fiscal Agency director Gary Olson estimates that will leave a shortfall of about $219 million in the general fund budget for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Kleine, Olson and House Fiscal Agency director Mitch Bean said Gov. Jennifer Granholm and lawmakers could come up with ways to shift funds or make other changes so more programs don't have to be cut. Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said meetings are set for Monday with lawmakers to decide what to do about the general fund budget gap.

And we find ourselves in this very interesting position that we haven't seen in quite some time - arguing about where an upturn in revenue should go. Mark Hornbeck at the DNews rouses the rabble and provides even more numbers to crunch in an extensive story:

It will be up to Gov. Jennifer Granholm and lawmakers whether they want to shift some cash from school aid to fill the hole in the general fund. Education lobbyists and others will contend that money should stay in the school aid fund for the inevitable next rainy day.

"Politically, there's no doubt that's a really, really difficult decision," said Mitchell Bean, director of the House Fiscal Agency, the financial arm of the state House.

Yes, even happy news brings about "difficult" political decisions for this group, but it sure beats further cuts to an already severely strained educational system. And while this is great for the schools, we still have a big problem with the general fund - so we aren't out of the woods yet.

Most important of all though, it truly shows that our economy is recovering. It's fragile still, this uptick is based on increased consumer spending that could easily stop on a dime again - but the consumer confidence leads to increased demand and that leads to new jobs... we have a long ways to go, with many people facing real hardships out there, but we are definitely on the right road.

And that should bring a smile and a sigh of relief to everyone.