State education budget going in right direction

Gov. Rick Snyder last week inked into law a bill authorizing $16.1 billion in education spending.

The measure included modest increases in per-student spending and a bump in higher education spending.

The Associated Press reported the minimum K-12 per-pupil grant will jump from $7,391 to $7,511, or 1.6 percent while the basic level will rise from $8,169 to $8,229, or 0.7 percent.

Notable in the bill was a $1 billion-plus allocation that will be put toward the school employee retirement system, up, according to Snyder, from “essentially nothing just a few years ago.”

Even with the infusion of state cash, school pension funds in the state of Michigan remain badly underfunded, a hidden fiscal land mine that’s going to blow up sooner or later.

In higher education, it’s much the same story. AP reported the bill included a 2.9 percent hike on operations at state universities. But overall higher education aid – including for six of the 15 universities – will remain below what it was before a major cut by Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature five years ago, in the depths of the Great Recession.

Michigan is starting to regain its footing on education spending, but there is a long way to go.

This spending package, however, represents positive steps.

– Marquette Mining Journal