GOP leader: Up to 25 percent cuts to Michigan schools from coronavirus

empty classroom

Michigan’s struggling students are expected to return to classrooms in the fall after a long layoff due to the coronavirus. Their schools are likely to take a big hit in state funding. (Shutterstock image)

The chair of the Senate committee that sets the K-12 school budget has a dire warning for Michigan schools: Prepare for a crippling decline in state funding.

Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, said Monday that he has told school officials in recent meetings to “prepare for the worst” budget in decades — a possible cut in the per-pupil foundation grant schools receive of 20 to 25 percent in the 2020-21 state budget, which must be approved before Oct. 1.

A 25 percent cut is the equivalent of a loss of about $2,000 from the roughly $8,000 schools received per enrolled student this year.

Kurt Weiss, spokesperson for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, acknowledged that “devastating cuts to education and other key priorities are a real possibility” because of the crushing economic blow of the coronavirus-caused lockdown on businesses. 

More than a million Michigan workers have filed for unemployment since mid-March. Tax revenue — that funds schools and other services — is likely to have dropped sharply.

The best glimpse yet of the extent of the damage to the state budget, and the impact on schools and other state-funded services, will be known Friday, with the release of the consensus revenue estimating conference report.

Even before that report is released, though, budget talks are underway. 

Schmidt, who chairs the Senate K12 Appropriations Subcommittee, said his top priority is protecting the foundation grant, which provides about 75 percent of Michigan school districts’ general funds. 

“But there’s no way around” cutting per-pupil funding.

“We’re looking at cuts (of per pupil funding) of 10 to 30 percent,” Schmidt said. “Ten percent would be a huge hit. I’d say 20-25 percent range is more likely.”

While Schmidt’s projections are dire, they are also preliminary. State budgets must be approved by the Senate and House and the governor, and there are usually intense negotiations.

The biggest one-year decrease in recent memory was in 2011, when the foundation grant dropped 7 percent, a $470 cut of the $6,856 per-pupil funding, according to State Superintendent Michael Rice.

“That cut was extremely hard for many school districts, many of which have never returned to pre-2011 service levels,” Rice said in an emailed response to Bridge Magazine. 

“A 20 to 25 percent cut — between $1,622 and $2,028 per pupil next year — would have a devastating effect on our children and our schools. A cut of that magnitude would be wholly unacceptable.”

Those cuts would have to be implemented in a year when schools will already be under intense pressure. Students will return in the fall after being out of classrooms for almost six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. School officials acknowledge that an extended absence from classrooms will likely lead to substantial learning loss, especially among low-income children and students who do not have access to high-speed Internet in their homes.

In addition to attempting to mitigate those learning gaps, schools will need to implement new health and safety features to try to limit the spread of the potentially deadly virus, said Scott Menzel, superintendent of Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

“I don’t know how any district can provide enhanced screening protocols in a COVID environment, attempt some modicum of social distancing, navigate logistics of transportation, food service and remain financially viable with that kind of reduction in funding,” Menzel said in an emailed response to Bridge. 

“If education is a priority, and I would argue it should be very high on the list if we hope to restart the economy and ensure our children are prepared to be successful as they move through the system, then efforts must be put in place to protect against this type of drastic reduction in funding.”

A loss of about $2,000 per student in state funding —  the equivalent of close to 20 percent of the average Michigan school district’s general fund in 2019 — would likely require teacher layoffs, Menzel said. That would mean cramming more students into fewer classrooms at a time schools are concerned about social distancing because of the pandemic, or a continuation of some online classes so that one teacher could instruct a larger number of students.

 Several school officials said they questioned whether some school districts would survive such a drastic funding cut.

“Every school district recognizes that we are likely to see a reduction in funding — the economic realities related to the impact of COVID-19 are undeniable,” Menzel said. 

“However, our elected officials need to come to the table with more ideas than simply imposing across-the-board reductions that will consign Michigan to the bottom tier of all states in the nation when it comes to supporting the education of our children.”

With the likely loss of several billion dollars in state revenue, the state budget can’t be balanced by nipping around the edges said Craig Thiel, research director at the nonprofit Citizens Research Council of Michigan. 

“There’s no escaping you’re going to have to cut tranches of big money,” Thiel said.

Cutting across the board — with funding for every student in every school declining equally — is an easy, equal way to make drastic cuts, Thiel acknowledged, but he argues that students with greater needs should suffer less.

“When we've been adding money, the effort recently has been to add money where it’s most needed,” Thiel said, referencing efforts to increase funding for low-income students and struggling readers. Cuts should be made the same way, Thiel said.

“The bloodletting on the economy has been unprecedented,” Thiel said. “Our point is, you could make the cuts surgically, rather than cut every kid’s foundation [funding] the same.”

One thing that would help schools, said DTMB’s Weiss, is if federal officials loosened restrictions on how federal pandemic stimulus dollars can be spent. Michigan schools received $390 million from the CARES Act, but the money can only be spent on losses directly related to the pandemic, such as increased costs for remote learning; the money can’t be spent to fill budget holes caused by lost state tax revenue.  

“We know we will have significant budget challenges,” Weiss said, “which is why we need greater flexibility on existing federal funding that will allow us to use those dollars to replace lost revenue.”

Schmidt, the Senate committee chair, said he is disappointed by the expected cuts to schools. 

“We were finally making some strides” in funding,” he said. “But we’re just baling water for the next two years.

“If schools think they’re going to get away with a $200 or $300 foundation grant decrease, that’s just not going to happen.”

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Hank Quayle
Mon, 05/11/2020 - 10:02pm

Back in February I called this- anyone could have called it. Whitmer shut down the economy, inflicting devastation on Michigan's economy- an economy which provides the funding for roads, healthcare, welfare, and education. What did she think would happen to sales tax and income taxes when she dictated an order that led to the loss of millions of jobs and the collapse of our economy?

Let me restate another prediction- she is going to push massive tax increases as a way to 'solve' the disaster that she created. Obviously tax increases won't be passed, so education will be cut. And teachers will cry and sob and whine and vote solidly Democrat. They did it before during the brutal Granholm times when they lost jobs and pay- they'll do it again. Teachers are loyal Democrats before being loyal to their families and profession.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 9:46am

Clearly you don't know many teachers. They care about their students and their families and keeping them safe. Painting them like some sort of political boogeyman is an insulting falsehood. The governor is making the best of a bad situation, and nobody said there wouldn't be consequences. Histrionics like yours hardly do anything to improve the situation.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 7:32pm

Given your comment, curious what's the feeling on starting school a month early since losing the last 2+ months? We've been being told how having 6 mos off is so bad, so how about it?

Career Teacher
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 9:10am

NO teacher has six months off. We're all working from home, educating kids, ensuring they get fed, helping with their mental and physical welfare, etc. Additionally, would you work an extra month for free?

Donald Southwell
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 6:52pm

Not true. Many educators are already in their Part-Time Summer Jobs. I have a son-in-law working construction, who teaches in Watervielt. My wife works part-time at a golf course and a teacher is already working 40+ hours a week. I support education, but the educators are on the gravy train.

middle of the mit
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 9:58pm


So what you are telling Bridge, the readers of comments and the world is that your wife and your son are teachers and you don't value what they bring to their students?

Careful bro! If your son or wife saw that post............they may have some words for you.

But since you use your "name" I am gonna guess they don't frequent this news website?

Cause if they do.........

I wouldn't want to be you!

And how is your wife/teacher working 40 hours a week at a golf course that was just opened in the last week?

Me thinks you are full of something.

And it isn't truth!
Filter - Hey Man, Nice Shot

I just think it's all cumbersome...........

Are you telling us that your wife and your son don't work beyond the hours they are at the school?

I was friends with some of my teachers. And they told me what they did to plan for the next day let alone week. If you can't see that in your son let alone your Wife...........what is wrong with you? Or.. if you are telling the truth, what is wrong them?

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 8:52pm

"Making the best of a bad situation"- what a poor innocent bystander the Governor is? If only that poor innocent lady could figure out who exactly shut down all of the businesses and employees in the state, why then she'd figure out what happened to all that vital sales and income tax revenue? Poor victim Whitmer- the situation is too big for her but let's grade her on a curve because of some reason or other. It's not her fault she didn't realize the totally obvious consequences of her own actions- it must be the Orange Man's fault!

She sucks and should be recalled immediately.

Donald Southwell
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 6:54pm

Right now the person who is sucking is you "Anonymous". Be a real person and give your full name shit face.

Bob Butkiss
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 4:19pm

Done. My point remains unchallenged. Aren't you the Donald Southwell who is on the National Sex Offender Registry? Or is that another Donald Southwell?

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 11:54am

Hey Hank, do you think this is just a Michigan problem? If you are at all informed you would know and understand that this is a nationwide problem impacting all 50 states and all of America's school children. This isn't about party loyalty - this is about the health and financial implications wrought by this global pandemic. So stop politicizing this and get your head out of the sand and start thinking about beneficial solutions to mitigate this horrific crisis rather than placing blame on an entire profession.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 1:07pm

We won't be paying those taxes - We have already anticipated this action and are prepared to suspend business in the face of increased taxes if we can't find some other way to get out of them, including converting all employees to independant contractors in order to eliminate/reduce individual and company tax burden, as well as other measures. These stasi pigs will be put where they belong, by any means necessary.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 6:13pm

Teachers vote Democratic because they're educated and care about society as a whole. If both of those things are true about you, you can't support the GOP.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 10:55pm

You are absolutely incorrect.
Teachers vote democratic because of the unions and tenure, which is essentially a handout - A free pass to be as useless as possible and still collect a paycheck - This describes a large percentage of tenured teaching staff in this state. They vote the way they do in order to avoid having to actually compete for a job like everyone in the real world does. This is quite well known and it's rather comedic that you would claim that voting for socialism is the "educated" thing to do - If education level had anything to do with it, an educated person would be smart enough to look at history and see the hundreds of millions of people killed by socialism and would want to be as far from those ideals as possible.
The truth is never the easy, warm, fuzzy answer - It's usually the answer that hurts the most.

Rick Raisen
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 11:04am

Ahh- I heard this same argument before from Obama and Clinton- if you vote Republican you're a deplorable non-person who deserves to have their property and lives taken from them, but if you're a Democrat you're smarter and care more so you can take the property and lives of others and feel morally superior. It's not a good argument, you know. There are other industries where people are more educated then teachers and "care more about society" and vote Republican- does that prove anything at all? And how exactly did you measure "care about society as a whole"- was that something you learned in your "colors are feelings" class at the expensive college you paid to give you a degree?

I don't know I even bother to type this stuff... arguing with an idiot only makes two...

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 12:06am

If that were to happen, you might as well just shut down schools.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 12:33am

Gee, has anyone mentioned this impending calamity to our Governor?

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 6:05am

No one seems to care about the kids. Now we see they can be affected by covid 19 in ways that were not known earlier. There schooling at home is awful, with many not getting instruction with teachers because of zoom bombing problems.

Now the GOP wants to cut spending. This is the same GOP that thinks it's not cool to were masks and do contact tracing, the same GOP that says let the states declare bankruptcy, the same GOP that says they want to explore the use of disinfectants and lights. the same GOP that puts these rigid restrictions on the CARES Act.

We may be in debt and the economy may be reopening much slower that it could. We may face colossal health threats and consequences, but if our kids learn how bad the GOP leadership and lemmings are in terms of policies, approaches, and scruples, then something good will come of all of this.

anonymous 2
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 8:50am

Anonymous, How can you look at what is going on an say the GOP is doing it. The GOP has been fighting the governor to take smart approaches at opening the economy to save revenue. I knew the title of this article was going to get dump people like you to say its the GOP. It pretty simple math and no matter if the article says it the GOP or not, the fact is there is no state revenue. Not only that the governor in her infinite wisdom closed the state through memorial day weekend. Which means a lot of communities that make a ton of money will not. Tourist dollars are going to go to Florida and other states that are open. all for virus that we are now finding has a 99% recovery rate. over 60% deaths in western Europe were in nursing homes and could have been avoided. Stay at home was to flatten the curve not eradicate the virus. That was accomplished two weeks ago. The economy know is going to kill more people than the virus. There is simply no state revenue, and the schools have to take a hit just like all the other businesses.
You are right about one thing though. The home schooling is not working. to blame the GOP is disingenuous.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 9:07am

...except, the state cant borrow money to cover budget shortfalls like the Feds can. So, I'm not sure how you blame the GOP, who is fighting to open the economy back up, for the lack of income. Must be one of those super informed "straight ticket" voters.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 10:07am

Spending has to be cut. Somewhere. If you look at the state budget, it's easy to see where the cuts must fall. The State of Michigan has a budget of roughly $56 billion. Reduced sales and income taxes and increased unemployment costs (all due to the Governor's actions and still getting worse because of the Governor's continuing actions) will reduce the states income by about $8 billion (at least). The state spends money on healthcare (which isn't going to get cut) and welfare (which will likely be more expensive this year). After that the next biggest thing to cut (in terms of the percentage of the budget) is education. I suppose you could cut the entire road budget (about $8 billion/year) or let go the entire state police ($8 billion/year) or let all the people out of prisons and shut them (about $8 billion/year)- but that's just silly talk. And all of the other departments don't add up to anywhere near $8B, so nickle and diming cuts there won't work. The cuts have to fall somewhere.

What did anyone think would happen? Reality exists. You can blame and cry and whine all you want, but reality exists. You can't shut down the state economy without devastating consequences. These are the price that you pay.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 11:34am

So how did you do in math? If you have 20% less money than you did before or planned to have, what is your solution? Whining and carping is easy and uninteresting. So is demanding that we tax someone else. So what is it?

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 1:52pm

No fear of that. The schools and Universities spend 100% of their time indoctrinating students in how bad the Republicans are. Thank goodness a lot of students see right through this and go on to lead solid productive lives despite all their teachers sprouted.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 7:46pm

If teaching kids reading, writing, math, and science end up with kids thinking the GOP is bad, then I wonder what that means about the GOP?

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 7:28am

Unfortunately everyone is going to feel the pain of what they have done. Maybe ignorantly, I don't know? Up to now I have given everyone the benefit of the doubt, but it is looking more like this chaos... it is not, but some kind of plan from many angles for people to benefit from this chaos for many reasons.

My contracting business of over 20 years was deem non-essential on March 24th by our governor, thankfully she allowed me to start working again may 7th. Six weeks with no income, no PUA (pandemic unemployment) which Trump signed into law to provide help for self-employed workers. Michigan said when I applied, supplying them with all the right documents, I received a letter I wasn't part of the Michigan work force. Of course I'm protesting it, but no one to call or even email they shut those lines of communication down.
In my protest with supplemental docs I even sent them a copy of my on-time April 15, 2020 quarterly estimated tax payment check which the state had cashed, but my case continues to sit in the mode of protest in progress for 2 plus weeks now. Who knows if I will ever receive anything I am beginning to think not. It will be another 1 or 2 weeks before I get money for work I will complete. I am sure I am one many casualties suffering under bad judgement and management.

By the way I live in the U.P. where their has been only 99 recorded cases 15 deaths, most are nursing home residences where sickness unfortunately takes many people from us every cold and flu season. For us covid went through here November, December I wished someone would of a least asked.

Thanks my representative government and the experts who have been scientifically wrong and statistical wrong as I am reading everyday here and around the world. All this damage and all they have to show for it is these made up graphs with no way to prove them that they flatten curve.
P.S, my neighbor who was laid off from her part time was called back this week but she told her employer she can't come back because people in her household are at risk of getting covid (not true). The real reason is she is making 2.5 times as much money not working because of the cares act. In fact her live in guy is on disability, she is now on souped up unemployment along with his son who worked part time and was laid off too. One family and no one works no one contributes, but drawing a household income of some where around $7,500 a month for not working. If you think your job is safe that this will not have an impact on you then are just plain dumb.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 12:22pm

I'm sorry to hear this for you. You're the exact kind of person i've been concerned with... the self-employed contractor type. You don't fit cleanly in any of the unemployment schemes. I'm really sorry it is so hard for you. Just keep in mind, for whatever its worth, that there are downstaters in metro detroit that understand your situation and are sympathetic.

Honestly, we need a more nuanced policy in the state that considers all risks. This gentleman's story is a key example.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 12:53pm

No Doubt that all of this has created a big problem. People who had a poor work ethic before this now can stay home and get paid. And most likely wait on the next checks that are coming. Non contributors and may I remind you most of these have side non taxed businesses selling puppies or drugs or working on the side for cash.
Also it is true you don't know what to believe, states demanded ventilators, but the ventilators had 88% death rate almost 90% died according to the study that came out in new york, google it. I am not an expert but makes since you put people into a comma and let the machine breath for them. But now how do they cough or fight for life, you really assigned to them a death sentence killing according to that report almost 9 out of every 10. True it is a last resort but what kind of resort is that. But the experts said this is what we should do?

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 9:39am

I'm always amazed at the critical comments aimed at Governor Whitmer, rather than all the governing members. Michigan State government has had 14 Republican trifectas: Governor, majority in the Senate and majority in the House since 1992. This includes the Snyder regime, that participated in the DeVos agenda to abolish public schools...because all families can afford $3,000 to $6,000 per child per year. Even during Granholm's 8 year term, ALL of those years included a Republican Senate majority, 4 years included a House Republican majority too. NEVER since 1992, has there been a Democratic trifecta or EVEN a majority Senate. ANY thinking individual MUST know how difficult (impossible) a party must work to advance its agenda with a split government. Does obstruction mean anything?? Does an attempt to over-throw a governor, with militia/white nationalists because she won't continue the Republican and House majority agenda of abolishing public education, destroying public healthcare, Union busting, causing the loss of thousands of auto industry jobs...not allow you to place the blame where it belongs?..and the roads Snyder had 8 years with a Republican Senate AND House....duh

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 7:42pm

For starters, why do you consider allowing poor families the ability to choose a school other than their zip code assigned option trying to "abolish public education" are they really so bad that only by forcing it will anyone attend them?

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 4:20pm

Okay, who had bets on how long it would take liberals to blame Rick Snyder for the Governor's orders which have destroyed the economy and killed thousands? Sadly the payoff is low because it was just so darn predictable.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 10:06am

I can see it now the schools will once again go after the already exploited property owners for more money. Proposal A passed by voters in 1994 was promoted as eliminating property taxes to fund the schools and replaced with an increase in the sales tax. But included in the proposal were other tax increases and the creation of the School Education Tax. Currently, in Wayne County, there are 6 school-related taxes on property tax bills

You're right
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 7:52pm

We should just forget schools altogether and focus on making sure property owners feel comfortable with their tax bills.

middle of the mit
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 10:49pm

Isn't it hilarious? The wealthy complain because they don't want to pay for their schools....the businesses do in THEIR OWN COMMUNITY and then they complain that they have to pay the non homestead tax on property in areas they are NOT residence in, but still want a vote!

It's almost like voting shouldn't be on residency status but on property status.

Can we discuss that?

Should landlords get a vote in rural areas for every property that they own? If non residents get a vote for their property, shouldn't landlords get a say in every property they own? And what about the residents that rent those properties? LOL! Do they get a vote? They pay the same non homestead tax, but the landlord gets their vote to how the schools are funded for THEIR children?

Me sees some wrong thinking behind this proposal.

Do you see it?

Dr. Shawn K. Wi...
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 10:07am

A 25% cut would roll back the minimum per-pupil full-time equivalency (FTE) back 19 years (2001) when the FTE was at $6,000 per student. Without substantial additional federal funding, school districts across Michigan will be forced to add thousands of teachers and school staff to the state's unemployment lines. Some serious discussions need to take place about adding billions of dollars in the next federal stimulus bill to be used to beef up educational stabilization funds, Title I, IDEA, e-rate support, and infrastructure support (including public school facilities).

George Hagenauer
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 10:17am

The major problem here is where the workforce will be in 15 years . When welfare reform was passed in the 1990s, a lot of us warned that by ignoring the needs of really young children we would have a major problem in many areas of filling jobs 20 years later essentially creating a class of lower skilled workers with difficulties adapting to shifting work environments . We are facing a similar problem now as what we do with education affects what we have for a workforce 10-20 years out. If massive cuts occur (and the roads are not going to be fixed again) there will need to be a restructuring of what schools do. My guess is extracurricular activities will disappear and if the flexibility is allowed a shorter school day maybe split into two segments and the combination of rural districts into larger entities. None will be easy to do nor necessarily good moves. If the federal government had moved earlier and not botched the testing you could have left sections of the country open while quarantining others . But that is past history and now we need to work on the uncertain future.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 10:44am


Tue, 05/12/2020 - 6:08pm

Don, nothing you said was in any way correct. This is what the whitmer people do- they tell lies and hope no one calls them on it. Whitmer causes $6+ billion in cuts to education and they want to debate how many millions should go here or there. Morons.

A Yooper
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 11:27am

Well, it's time for the schools to fish or cut bait.
Education is the priority.
Cut sports programs and they'll save bundles.
Track, baseball, football, basketball, tennis, golf, swimming, volleyball, cross-country, bowling, etc., for boys and girls are becoming a waste of money. So a "few" kids get sports scholarships, big deal? Sports accomplishes nothing. It does not build character. If it did, there wouldn't so many college athletes being arrested right? Or, these high school athletes wouldn't be raping girls if they had developed good character from sports, right?
Sports don't teach them anything.
I am done voting for school millage in my town. Not anymore.
Time to get back to the 3 R's period.

Ed Haynor
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 11:37am

Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, Senate Appropriations Chair is quite useless in regards to his comments in this article, since all he has to offer is catastrophic cuts of the magnitude that make the education of children, nearly impossible. 30 years or so of cutting revenue streams by republicans, has made this scenario possible. I know no one could have predicted a pandemic, but Michigan republicans didn’t learn anything since the Great Recession of 2008 either.

There are at least three major problems built into Michigan’s tax revenue structure, which have contributed mightily to Michigan’s funding crisis that have to be fixed. Even in so-called good times, we can see first-hand what revenue shortfalls have done as to why roads don’t get fixed, pollution doesn’t get cleaned up, and school funding lags to the detriment of school children, just to name a few major issues Michigan faces.

1. Since Michigan passed the Headlee Amendment in 1978, untold billions in tax revenue have been lost. Although research on the overall effect of Headless is hard to find, at, shows that “in fiscal year 2013, state revenue stood $6.5 billion below that limit. The year before, it was $5.2 billion below. Altogether, state revenues are more than $90 billion dollars below that limit since 1979.” Even though this article was written six years ago in 2014, it states, “K-12 student performance in Michigan now lags behind most other states. College students are on the hook for a much higher proportion of their college costs than in the past generation. Michigan suffers from eroding roads, sewer and water system infrastructures. Many local governments have cut services ranging from parks upkeep to police and fire staffing.” And because of this financial crisis created by the pandemic, that Michigan was not prepared for, it appears the same local governments, schools, colleges and Michigan’s infrastructure will again suffer greatly. I’m sure once cuts are again made, there will be many more casualties to come that will be added to this list.

2. Since 2011, corporations have received a yearly $2 billion dollar tax cut, into perpetuity, as a result of former Gov. Snyder’s and the republican legislature cutting taxes for corporations. According to a Bridge Magazine article in 2018, it says, “Business taxes, meanwhile, are an estimated 1.9 percent of the state revenue pot.” It’s immoral to think that Michigan corporations contribute less than 2% in business taxes to Michigan’s overall revenue structure.

3. Michigan gives out a ton of additional business tax breaks (corporate welfare) on the belief that these tax breaks create jobs. At, shows that in 2017, the state doled out $27.5 billion dollars’ worth of business tax breaks, more than it collected for schools and general government revenue; $7 billion more in 2017 than they were in 2000. Michigan elected leaders have invested so much money in corporate welfare that we haven’t been able to invest in public infrastructure, such as schools, roads and cleaning up the environment, let alone be prepared for financial crisis of the magnitude of a pandemic. To its detriment, Michigan’s use of economic development never includes investing in its citizens, which includes the education of children.

Based on at least these three above revenue defects, anyone who says Michigan citizens and corporations are overtaxed, don’t have much financial sense or know a lot about how a state can and should invest in itself. One thing definitely for sure has been proven completely, over these past 30 years or so, Michigan couldn’t and didn’t tax cut their way to prosperity.

So, how do we solve a financial problem of this magnitude? It’s hard to do anything about Headlee at this moment, since this law was added to Michigan’s Constitution and would require a Constitutional amendment to undue it. But the corporate tax break and corporate welfare could be eliminated, or at least modified, since both laws were created by legislation.

If schools do receive a cut of 20-30%, readers must recognize this won’t be just for one year. Cuts of this size could go on for many years. If this is the solution that republicans plan to offer Michigan Schools, I suggest that Boards of Education throughout Michigan, collectively by resolution, don’t open this fall until the Michigan legislature solves its revenue shortfalls, since they would have no other options.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 6:12pm

Hopefully no listen to this idiot. As long as the schools remain closed, our economy continues to be blasted, which hurts revenue going to schools. This idiot churns our threats and demands, but reality and budgets are real- save teachers and education by opening schools ASAP.

Ed Haynor
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 8:19pm

You don't advance any solutions to any argument when you call people names as a part of your response, since it tends to show your ignorance of the issue(s) at hand. Of course, you don't show any courage either, when you fail to use your own name with your disingenuous comments.
Some must think you're a republican, since they appear to be the only ones who think and express their views this way.

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 12:47am

Yes, I did advance a solution- open the schools ASAP. Learn how to read.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 12:03pm

So because of the Corona Virus. You are going to take this out on our Kids.
We keep hearing Gambling will fund our Schools! Casinos will Fund our Schools! Taxes will fund our Schools. All the State wants to do is give less and less Money to our Schools. Why doesn't the Legislature Go for giving up there Pay Check.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 12:06pm

Superintendent Wenzel asserts that we must consider other options besides laying off teachers, the people who are most needed to overcome the challenges created by school shutdowns, to say nothing of challenges present prior to the pandemic. I agree and suggest that those best equipped to figure out how to enhance student learning within the context of deep funding cuts are the teachers and school administrators themselves. They are closest to the work. They have ideas about what is possible. They are the people who will be required to carry out whatever decisions will be made.

It would be a mistake to polarize the deliberations -- such as pitting increased taxes against teacher layoffs -- before there is even an opportunity to consider other options. A special task force, with representation from all of the key stakeholder groups and solid representation from teachers, should be created to consider how to address the likely funding shortfall in ways that best serve students. I agree that the possibility of increasing taxes at all, let alone enough to offset the funding shortfall, is doubtful but laying off teachers as a knee-jerk reaction to it is untenable. Students and employers will be hurt the most and, long-term, so will we all.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 8:57pm

And every day that Whitmer keeps Michigan shut down, the problem gets worse. Every day that Whitmer denies people the right to work and puts people under house arrest, she is hurting everyone long-term. And it's all her decision and no one else's to inflict this unnecessary pain on Michiganians.

Ed Haynor
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 10:46am

Your comment that a special task force with all stakeholders take place to consider how to address the likely funding shortfall in ways that best serve students has already been done. It was called the Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative at The School Finance Research Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts, from Metro Detroit to the U.P., who agree it’s time to change the way Michigan’s schools are funded. This group has completed Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study, providing a roadmap to fixing Michigan’s broken school funding approach and making it fair for all students. Read their comprehensive report at:

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 12:27pm

I think this is a very important article, and I always appreciate the independent journalism of Bridge. However, I take issue with the headline.

I'm an independent voter, and if anything lean Democrat, but ive voted for people from both major parties as well as independents in the past. My issue is that the headline would make this out to be a republican agenda issue to defund schools, whereas I believe that the state representative quoted is simply stating facts. As such, their party affiliation is not critical to the piece.

It would have been fine to mention their party affiliation somewhere in the article, but leading with "GOP leader" makes it seem like this is a partisan issue... the republicans want to defund schools... whereas that does not appear to be the case; the leader, who happens to be a republican, is simply stating the economic reality of the moment and its consequences.

Please adjust the title of the article so as to not institute perceived bias of the readership in passing judgement on the content prior to reading.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 1:03pm

And now we'll see a massive push to destroy what's left of public schooling in Michigan after decades of being undermined by DeVos and the charter school initiave. Deny the kids of Michigan a decent education, and you can guarantee that the state will continue to decline. Look to New Orleans in the wake of Katrina for a vision of the future if this goes through

Doby Joe
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 12:08am

Ahh... so it was DeVos's fault... you know, Dick DeVos, the current Governor of Michigan? Or maybe it was Richard DeVos, who reached out from beyond the grave to control Whitmer's mouth and have her say "no more business in Michigan!" Yes, it must have been someone other than the current Governor who destroyed Michigan's sales and income tax bases with an unnecessary order to shut down, because there is no way that a Democrat would be so incredibly stupid as to torch her base like this. Come on Bones, this post is sad- are you trolling are real with stuff like this?

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 1:04pm

Given the damage already done to the Michigan economy, serious cuts in state and local spending are inevitable. Under the circumstances, Public Health and Education should be among the last and least-cut items in our state budgets, but I will be very surprised if our schools see less than a 20% drop in state funding.

One way to mitigate some of the funding cuts will be for schools to continue to offer some or all classes on-line, especially for secondary school students in urban and suburban districts where the telecom infrastructure is in place. To support that change, plus add resilience to schools' capacity for remote education, the MPSC should add a "universal service" requirement to cable and cell phone service providers operating in Michigan, and lobby the FCC for that requirement to be nation wide.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 1:57pm

How can they claim that tax revenue is down, they haven't even collected it yet? They have until July 15th this year.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 2:00pm

Might be a good time to question why Michigan has 587 public school districts for only 1,555,370 students, or on average 2,650 students per district. Seems like a ripe opportunity to eliminate some overhead without taking away from the classroom. Just a drop in the bucket, but every leaky faucet leads to an economic nightmare when it comes time to pay the water bill.

Ed Haynor
Tue, 05/12/2020 - 5:49pm

Why didn't you add the 300 charter schools in your computation?

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 11:03pm

Arjay’s comment is correct. We have to many school districts in the state. Consolidation would help in the elimination unnecessary administrative positions. Have the Intermediate school districts run the schools on a county wide basis.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 2:46pm

Before we go off the deep end in despair, let's stop and take a breath. Certainly there will be cuts because of reduced state tax revenue. But we don't know how deep those cuts need to be at this point. There is a consensus forming in Washington that there will need to be a financial package aimed at helping states meet the cost of essential services, so anyone who says they know what the extent of program reductions will be is just speculating at this point. Let's wait until we have good information before we haul out the doomsday scenarios.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 5:19pm

If home school kids can do well on a lot less so can Michigan school kids. We can get trough this. Money does not make a kid brilliant. Schmidt has always tried to solve his political problems with higher taxes and increased spending e.g. fix the roads.

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 8:46pm

The state is off the hook for an incredible amount of money that would have been spent on

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 7:01am

So, because the budget prediction is going to be about 5% lower, school budgets will be cut 25%?!?! In February they were predicting a $61.9 billion dollar budget for the next fiscal year and now it’s going to be $3 billion dollars lower. Why not cut every facet of government spending by the same percentage so schools don’t take the brunt of the cuts?

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 3:51pm

Instead of fighting about who did what when, let's look at the situation. We have 537 school districts in Michigan. Time to end the duplication and save money by consolidating. We have 57 Intermediate School Districts Michigan. Big money pits. Let's look at whether we really need all these ISDs. It can be done, without all the backbiting and finger pointing. Save money by consolidation.

Donald Southwell
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 6:45pm

Just saying, but maybe it is time for the overpaid, under worked, legislature take a MAJOR cut in their pay and benefits, at least 50%. Let us see who is willing to "serve" or "SELF SERVE". Doesn't matter which party, the majority are self serving, especially Calley from Portland.

Regina Weiss
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 12:52am

Looks like the Legislature's budget is about $200 million/year. Cutting that in half would save $100 million. That's a good start towards the needed $6 Billion that the Governor's executive orders torched from the state budget.... but every week the Governor's orders stay in effect the state loses several hundred more million, so in reality the best possible way to save our schools and roads and healthcare and police is for the Governor to be return legislative power to the Legislature and for the Legislature to use it's budget and staff to put in place safe and effective ways to open the state up again.

But it is a lot more fun to just point a finger at them and blame them, isn't it? If it weren't for darn reality, you would have had a major point.

Tim Allen
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:21am

The Legislature should be cutting their wages and long term benefits before they make additional cuts to the Education of our children.