Lansing Update: July 2, 2010

In this week’s Lansing Update:

  1. Enhanced Support for Non-Public Schools Highlight Budget Week
  2. State of Michigan Budget Woes Continue as State Awaits Fed Action

Enhanced Support For Non-Public Schools Highlight Budget Week

Catholic and other non-public schools will soon see enhanced “shared time” services thanks to language included in the 2010–11 K–12 School Aid Budget that passed the Legislature this week. According to the legislation, charter schools will now be able to provide the same elective educational services to non-public schools that traditional public schools already provide.

Shared-time programs were enacted by the Legislature in 1979, and allow public school districts to provide elective course instruction within non-public schools. The agreement is a win-win situation for public and non-public schools alike as the host public school receives pro-rated foundation allowance from the state while the Catholic or non-public school is able to keep tuition down while providing additional courses for their students.

The School Aid Budget passed by the Legislature this week enhances those services by allowing charter schools to also provide shared-time services within non-public schools. The change reflects ongoing freedom for non-public schools to reach out to public schools.

In 2008, the original 1979 law was amended to allow non-public schools to pursue shared time services from a wider selection of public schools. Existing law had mandated non-public schools to request services only from their host public school district. The law was amended to allow non-public schools to reach out to a “contiguous” school district if the host district failed to express interest or respond in a timely fashion.

The House-Senate conference report for the 2010–11 School Aid Budget passed the House of Representatives 95-6 and the State Senate 35-1. It is expected to be signed into law by Governor Granholm as soon as possible in order for public school districts to craft operating budgets that began on July 1.

State Of Michigan Budget Woes Continue As State Awaits Fed Action

While the Legislature passed the 2010–11 School Aid Budget this week, all remaining departmental budgets for the coming fiscal year await consideration from House-Senate conference committees—which may not come until after the August primary election.

Michigan’s economic doldrums are continuing as state economic advisors have found a $350 million deficit for what was once thought to be a balanced 2009–2010 budget. The difficult economic news has only continued as the United States Senate failed this week to pass legislation granting Michigan, and every state, hundreds of millions in Medicaid dollars, which have already been built into next year’s state’s budget. Should the Senate fail to approve the funding, Michigan will have no choice but to cut various state programs in order to balance the deficit. Cutting human service programs has been a constant theme for the past 7 years, and may continue to produce harmful consequences as the legislation granting state Medicaid funding also includes continued unemployed benefits for some 87,000 Michigan citizens.

The state’s 2010–11 budget must be balanced by October 1 of this year, yet state officials are unsure of how large the deficit actually is. The number has been estimated to be around $1.3 billion, but a lack of federal Medicaid dollars means the deficit could rise to as large as $2 billion.