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From Lansing:a column by State Rep. Brad Jacobsen

A view on education in Michigan

February 26, 2014 - As we move closer to working out the details of formulating a state budget, tough decisions must be made on spending finite resources to ensure that taxpayer dollars go toward bettering the state and making improvements for Michigan residents.

This has and needs to be a continued priority for the future, as outlined in Gov. Rick Snyder's State of the State address earlier this year.

As a Legislature, we want to make sure the funds are used in ways that will help build a solid foundation for Michigan's students. Funding of our Michigan's schools brings about questions of where the money goes and how the funding benefits our children.

In order to understand the current picture of education funding, we need to first look into the past. In 2008, Michigan received one-time federal funding allocated to benefit education. By 2010, the funding had been spent and school districts had become dependent upon the funds to cover costs in their budgets. This caused a deficit for coming years and school districts scrambled to fill the holes that the federal funding had covered. Looking forward three years, funding for education has increased by $1 billion since Gov. Snyder took office, coupled with reforms that ensure the money is spent better.

In his recently announced budget for the 2015 fiscal year, Gov. Snyder proposed investing 3 percent more into K-12 education. The 3 percent will equate to a total of $11.7 billion invested into K-12 education. For schools in the state, the budget increase means the lowest-funded districts could receive more equitable per-pupil grant and districts that are already better-funded would receive $83 more per student. Included in the budget proposal is $2 million to pilot voluntary year-round school programs, nearly $1.4 billion to assist students in special education, and increasing funding toward retirement promised to teachers by $270 million. The increases in funding mean that more money is allocated per student than in previous years.

The state also plans to continue investing dollars to ensure that retirees receive their benefits. The funding will lend a helping hand to school districts and will help to guarantee that each student receives a world class education.

Focusing your tax dollars to work for schools and students is one of the most important things I do as a legislator. I am hopeful that the plan of investment in kids from early childhood through college or vocational school pays off for every hardworking taxpayer.

It is my personal goal to make sure that the coming 2014-15 budget is the best one for Michigan students, teachers, and parents.

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