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Michigan House Approves $15 Billion Budget for Schools, Colleges

LANSING, Mich. — The Republican-controlled Michigan House approved a $15.1 billion education budget that includes an increase in funding for state universities, community colleges and public schools Tuesday, passing the first piece of the state budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

The plan was passed on a bipartisan 65-43 vote, sending it to the Republican-led Senate for consideration, where it is likely to get a vote Wednesday. But some House Democrats attacked the plan, saying it didn’t go far enough to correct past cuts to the state’s education system.

“This budget is only passable, and I mean acceptable, if you buy into the concept or the new paradigm that the Snyder administration has put in that we should have diminished expectations for public school funding,” said Democratic Rep. Brandon Dillon of Grand Rapids.

Under the plan, Michigan’s 15 public universities would receive about $31.1 million, or 2 percent more, in overall funding next fiscal year but would be expected to keep their tuition rate increases at or below 3.75 percent to get some money that is tied to performance, such as the number of completed degrees.

Republican Rep. Al Pscholka of Stevensville said restraining tuition increases will help make college education more affordable, “which is good for students and families.”

Michigan’s public schools would get slightly more than 3 percent more in overall funding next year, including $140 million from a pot of nearly $700 million in extra funding that the state has, thanks to better-than-expected tax collections.

School districts that now get the minimum amount of state aid could get as much as $60 more per student, raising the per-pupil grant from $6,966 to $7,026. The actual amount each district gets is determined by a number of factors, including whether a district meets “best practices” incentives, such as providing online learning opportunities for students. But the budget includes $6 million to ensure that all districts see at least a $5-per-pupil boost.

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