DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday signed into law a $16.1 billion education budget, which includes a per-student spending increase ranging from $60 to $120 to decrease the gap between higher- and lower-funded public school districts.
The Republican governor called the spending plan an “unprecedented investment” at a bill-signing event in suburban Detroit.
For the first time in state history, the budget includes $2.5 million to assist private schools with the cost of complying with state requirements like employee background checks, immunization reporting and safety drills. Public school advocates objected to the funding and asked the governor for a line-item veto.
Snyder said he was still reviewing “potential legal issues” with the private school aid and might ask for an opinion from the Michigan Supreme Court or state attorney general.
Overall spending on preK-12 education will increase 1.9 percent in the fiscal year that starts in October. The minimum per-pupil grant will jump from $7,391 to $7,511, or 1.6 percent; the basic level will rise from $8,169 to $8,229, or 0.7 percent.
The budget includes a “huge” $1 billion-plus allocation for the school employee retirement system, up from “essentially nothing just a few years ago,” Snyder said before signing the legislation alongside Republican lawmakers and others at a middle school in Oakland County’s Commerce Township.
The law also authorizes the first $72 million payment toward bailing out and restructuring the debt-ridden Detroit Public Schools over a number of years.
The state will spend 2.9 percent more on operations at state universities. But aggregate aid — including for six of the 15 universities — will remain below what it was before a major budget-balancing cut by Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature five years ago, despite his initial proposal this year to bring them back to the levels in place when he took office.
“That is one area I still am committed to working on,” Snyder said.
Tuition and fee increases will be capped at 4.2 percent, allowing for bigger hikes than in the current budget.
Snyder plans to sign the rest of the 2016-17 state budget later this week.
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