Sen. Jones introduces education package
LANSING—A package of legislation designed to restore the original intent of Proposal A was introduced in the Michigan Senate on Wednesday, said sponsor state Sen. Rick Jones.
“Proposal A was first put on the ballot in 1994 and approved by 69 percent of Michigan voters,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “The proposal increased sales tax by 2 percent in order to protect seniors on fixed incomes from facing skyrocketing property values on their homes and to better fund public education.”
Former governor Jennifer Granholm was the first Michigan governor to discover she could transfer money from the School Aid Fund to the Community College budget. These funds were then backed out of the Community College fund and placed into the General Fund.
“The spirit of Proposal A was to fund local schools and eventually equalize the per-pupil foundation so every school had the same per-pupil funding,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, this has not happened.
“I introduced Senate Joint Resolutions H and I in order to restore the original intent of Proposal A. SJR H would require that school aid money must stay in K-12 funding. SJR I would require that all schools must have equal funding per pupil gradually within ten years. It is not fair for a student in Eaton County to have $7,000 for education and students in other parts of Michigan to have $11,000 or $12,000 thousand.
Jones said another problem is that money has to be taken away from education for the cost of school busing. He said schools in Eaton County pay for buses while other districts such as East Grand Rapids or some charter schools have no busing. Jones will introduce a bill next week to provide schools with fifty cents per mile for transporting children to and from school.
“Many states provide much more funding for busing but this is a start,” Jones said.
“The Michigan Constitution says that the Legislature shall maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools. It is time to ensure that money meant for schools is not diverted in any way. The school buses must be well maintained so that children in rural areas have reliable transportation.”