MASA, MASB, MAISA: Fixing the roads at the expense of the classroom is wrong for Michigan

Proposal to eliminate sales tax on gas would be devastating to education

LANSING—According to multiple news outlets, incoming House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), plans to propose the elimination of the sales tax on gasoline, which will result in a cut to schools of at least $700 million. Education leaders from the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA), the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) and the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB) agree that there needs to be a comprehensive infrastructure plan, however it shouldn’t come in the form of massive cuts to Michigan’s schools.

This proposal isn’t entirely new and in 2014 the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency estimated that this proposal would result in a $725 million reduction in School Aid Fund dollars—or nearly $475 per pupil. This type of cut would be devastating to districts who are just now starting to recover from cuts in 2011. According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, recent increases to per-pupil funding, when adjusted for inflation, leave schools well below funding levels of 2012. Michigan schools can hardly absorb another three quarters of a billion dollar cut.

“We must stop looking to fix all of Michigan’s issues on the backs of schools and students,” said Don Wotruba, MASB Executive Director. “We cannot continue to take dollars away from the classroom, especially while the Legislature is asking more and more from our schools.”

Nearly 75 percent of the money raised through the sales tax on gas is earmarked for schools. This new proposal would eliminate that—forcing drastic cuts to public education.

“We agree that roads and infrastructure are a priority for Michigan, but those priorities must be accomplished along side the education of Michigan’s children, not at the expense of,” said Chris Wigent, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators. “Public education must be a priority for the next legislature and Governor if we are to be an educational leader and implement the reforms prescribed in the School Finance Research Collaborative.”

MASB, MASA, MAISA all support a comprehensive roads and infrastructure plan, but it cannot be at the expense of public education. Good roads will be worth little if our school system is so bad no one wants to be in Michigan, let alone use the roads.

“We understand that our buses, students, and parents rely on Michigan roads to get students to school,” said Dr. William Miller, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators. “But if good roads lead students to chronically underfunded schools the next generation of drivers will only be using the roads to leave Michigan.”

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