(Lansing, MI) – State Senator Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) is calling on his colleagues in the Senate to put aside partisan politics and support education reform proposals expected to come before the Senate this week. The Senate is poised to take up the FY 2011-12 budget bills that were voted out of the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.
During the debate on the Department of Education Appropriations bill Colbeck, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, put forward a number of proposals designed to look at the spending side of the equation rather than the revenue side. These proposals have the potential to save several thousand dollars per pupil in spending.
The first set of proposals offered by Senator Colbeck could possibly put over $400 per pupil back into the classroom by consolidating human resources, information technology and accounting support services at the Intermediate School District (ISD) or State level. These proposals passed without any support from the Democrat senators who have expressed public outrage that we are not putting enough money into the classrooms.
Another proposal to consolidate school districts with fewer than 1500 students offers the potential of putting significantly higher funding back into the classroom on the order of $1700 per pupil. Unfortunately, this proposal was voted down; once again by the folks who have been very vocal about wanting more money spent on education.
In the interest of getting a sufficient number of votes to pass the proposals out of committee, Colbeck merely requested that the above proposals be “investigated.” The reports are due March 1, 2012, allowing for sufficient time to implement any recommendations via appropriate legislation for the FY12-13 budget.
“Even with this ‘watered down’ approach to the legislation, several of the more vocal senators clamoring for increased funding to the schools voted ‘No’ on these amendments,” Colbeck said. “I’m happy to say that with the support of my Republican colleagues, all but one of my amendments passed.
“Any one of the options could have virtually eliminated or significantly dented the Governor’s proposed $470 per pupil reduction. Which begs the question, ‘Why don’t some legislators want to investigate proposals that could put more money into the classrooms?’
“I am calling on my Democrat colleagues in the Senate to stop their attempts to block meaningful reform in education spending. End the partisan attacks and scare tactics and join with Republicans in looking at how we are spending the money that we have. Consider all viable options with regard to spending reform.
“While many school boards and superintendents are proposing teacher layoffs and other solutions that impact the classroom, I would prefer to investigate solutions that represent ‘new school’ thinking that puts the interest of students first.
“‘New school’ solutions feature consolidation of support services, consolidation of smaller school districts, and pursuing benefit parity between public employees (including legislators) and private employees. It’s time to shift the focus of the education funding debate from spending more to spending smarter,” Colbeck concluded.