Tuesday, August 10, 2010

US House Passes Aid to States, Michigan to Receive $698 Million

Thank FSM. Come to mama...

Michigan will be receiving $698 million in state aid from the federal government, as the House of Representatives, returning to Washington from its summer recess, voted to pass a bill to provide $26 billion in funding to the states for Medicaid and education funding. The measure passed on a vote of 247 to 161.

The White House estimates the funding will save the jobs of some 300,000 teachers and other civil servants.

Michigan will receive $380 million in Medicaid aid and $318 million in education funding, the equivalent of 4,700 average teacher salaries, according to numbers provided by federal Department of Education, reports the Detroit News.

We were expecting $560 million for Medicaid, so that will still come up short. And since we have already settled the School Aid budget and districts have planned accordingly, who knows how that will be handled - but you can bet the squabbling has already started. Depending on the rules attached to the aid, it sure would be nice if we could do something about this problem:

Michigan's declining investment in higher education is among the worst in the nation -- making it difficult for students to get degrees and the state to recover from the poor economy, according to a report released Monday.

The first report of its kind by the Michigan League for Human Services found state aid and financial aid programs to Michigan's 15 public universities declined by nearly 17 percent from 2002 to 2010. Meanwhile, undergraduate tuition for in-state residents during that same time period jumped 88 percent.

Funding for the state's 28 community colleges, meanwhile, decreased 7 percent between 2002 and 2010 as tuition increased 40 percent -- from an average of $54 to $76 a credit hour, the report showed.

Read the whole report for the complete details. It's tragic. Michigan now ranks 45th in the nation when it comes to higher education funding, and was seventh highest in tuition increases thanks to the cuts from our legislature - and that should be unacceptable to us all. Scholarships have been lost, some kids have had to drop out, families and students are going further into personal debt, can you say "back door tax increase" anyone?

Senate Republicans are proposing more cuts to higher ed to fill the budget gap, which in turn will send tuition even higher next time around. K-12 will throw a monster fit if they don't get this money, but perhaps we should think about spreading it out - if that's even possible. And keep in mind it's a one-time shot too. The next legislature/governor will still have to deal with the chronic funding problem.

Good luck everyone. These guys will probably fight over this like starving dogs over a piece of meat, but it sure beats the alternative of nothing at all.

UPDATE: Nope - can't use it for higher ed.

SFA Director Gary Olson said the education funds are strictly limited to K-12 and cannot be used even for public universities or community colleges. He said the law requires the state to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education within 30 days.

Olson said the funding also requires states to spend on education in the 2010-11 fiscal year what they spent in the 2008-09 fiscal year. Olson said that would require Michigan to spend another $243 million of the $326 million it receives, mostly likely having to go into the foundation allowance. He said officials were examining whether the spending would have to go into the foundation allowance or could go into the so-called categoricals that earmark funding to specific programs.

Michigan Republicans are throwing a fit about this paid-for legislation that reduces the deficit, funds education, and closes tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas. They won't be happy until everyone makes $1.57 an hr., the unions are destroyed, and your kids are eating paste for lunch with 50 other children in their unheated classrooms, but what else is new.