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Michigan Budget Passes With $14.3 Billion For Education Funding

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MICHIGAN BUDGET
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder enters the joint session of the House and Senate to deliver his State of the State in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) | AP

While next year's state budget is headed to the desk of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder months earlier than years prior, the quick pace still hasn't guaranteed satisfaction for legislators.

The state Senate passed the final piece of the budget Tuesday, nailing down contested education spending for next year, with bills outlining a 3 percent spending increase for a total of $12.9 billion for K-12 and $1.4 billion for higher education. They narrowly missed Snyder's June 1 deadline, but still hammered out the differences nearly three months prior to the start of fiscal year 2013 in October.

Democrats and education advocates reiterated their disappointment with the budget, which still allocates much less funding for education than prior years.

"These budgets barely scratch the surface of last year's devastating cuts to K-12 schools and higher education," said David Hecker, president of Michigan's chapter of the American Federation of Teachers union. "Slashing money for education in our state is pitting school districts and colleges against one another as they compete for the same funds."

The bills give an additional $36 million to public universities, $200 million to public schools and $10.3 million additional for community colleges, according to CBS Detroit.

Universities can receive certain funding by keeping tuition increases at 4 percent or below, and some funding is tied to performance metrics related to graduation rates and research spending. Wayne State University in Detroit is posed to get the least additional money, less than a one percent increase.

"It's not about spending money, it's about helping create an education system that's focused on helping our great hardworking teachers get even more student growth," Snyder told WZZM.

According to MLive, students in K-12 will get a minimum of $120 more per student.

While the bills passed mostly along party lines, according to the Detroit News, Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy) voted against it because he didn't agree with the way school performance would be measured and several other issues.

Other legislators had concerns about funding tied to social issues, like stem cell research, which the University of Michigan will be required to report on to the state.

The complete $48 billion budget includes some modest increases in spending, as well as a small personal income tax cut and money set aside to pay off debts. Some of the spending comes after officials adjusted revenue projections last month to include an additional $300 million.

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