Schools "protected" in tight new state budget

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Capital News Service
LANSING — While many state programs are being cut, Michigan’s public schools and colleges will start the new budget year Oct. 1 relatively unscathed.
Gov. John Engler has approved a budget for the state schools of $11.5 billion.
“Income taxes have helped to protect education, said Kelly Bartlett, legislative liaison for the Department of Management and Budget.
Ever since 1994, income taxes have done this through Proposal A, a state constitutional amendment, that increased the sales tax by 2 cents to help generate revenue for Michigan schools.
For kindergarten through high school, the state will now spend $6,700 per pupil in 2003.
Another education area that will also see an increase next year is funding for higher education.
The state’s four-year universities will now receive $1.9 billion.
Rep. Tony Stamas, R-Midland, chairman of the House Community College Committee, said the education budget was completed back in April.
“Community colleges are now offering more and more courses over the Internet,” Stamas said. Engler approved spending $312.7 million for community college.
Kelly Chesney, press secretary for the DMB, said “some of the dollars have a lot of flexibility.”
Bartlett said school-based health clinics were eliminated because of drop in general fund.
The general fund is made up of money that is left over in the budget after earmarked funds for areas such as education, corrections and mental health are allocated.
“One of the reasons for this cut was because these clients can get federal money” Bartlett said.
Rep. Paul DeWeese , R-Williamston, said “Whenever we can secure federal resources for education that would be helpful.
“Despite Michigan’s economic problems, education has been treated well and has been given an enormous amount of funding,” DeWeese added.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism

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