LANSING, MI –
Michigan school districts are scheduled to receive reduced payments on December 21 due to budget cuts. Democrats in Lansing say lawmakers need to approve new revenue soon so a handful of schools aren't forced to close.
Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon says the immediate future calls for quick, decisive action to avert cuts to schools that will be almost impossible to restore later.
"Next year is going to be much worse than this year, so I support long-term structural change as well," he says. "But I also think we owe it the school districts to do something here in the short term."
The chairman of the House Appropriations panel that oversees the schools budget agrees with Dillon that the Legislature needs to act before the end of the year to protect schools from massive layoffs. He says some school districts are also considering cutting important programs like arts, music and sports.
But Republicans in the state Senate say the Democratic plan to drain next year's reserve of federal stimulus money to help restore money cut from the School Aid Fund would be irresponsible.