The Michigan League for Public Policy today released a report that found a one-time fix intended  to balance the state budget during the Great Recession has become a go-to tactic, draining $4.5 billion from the School Aid Fund since 2010.

According to the report: “A one-time fix to help balance the state budget has now become regular practice in the annual appropriations process. Michigan has shifted a total of $4.5 billion intended for K-12 public schools to universities and community colleges since 2010, including a record $908 million for the upcoming budget year. This cut to K-12 education was not done for the benefit of postsecondary education, but to balance the state budget and compensate for General Fund dollars that are increasingly stretched thin due in large part to tax cuts for businesses.”

“Over the past eight years, the exception unfortunately became the rule, and using School Aid Fund dollars for higher education went from a last resort to the first order of business,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. While this gimmick may be legal, it is morally and fiscally irresponsible, and lawmakers should put an end to the practice immediately and permanently.”

The report suggests that the $4.5 billion diverted from the School Aid Fund could have been used to:

  • Increase the foundation allowance
  • Fully fund Early On
  • Fully fund the At-Risk School Aid program
  • Increase funding for early literacy
  • Expand preschool and early learning programs

Read the full report from the MLPP: A Hard Habit to Break: The Raiding of K-12 Funds for Postsecondary Education