Whitmer plan to stop using school aid fund money for higher education could hit roadblock

Mar 15, 2019

It could be a challenge to end the practice of shifting money meant for K-through-12 education to higher education. 

Michigan has been using money budgeted for the School Aid Fund toward higher education for almost a decade – and Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it’s time to stop. But that means money for higher education would have to come from the general fund.

Representative Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) chairs the House Appropriations committee. He said he’s willing to consider the move – but it would take time and likely have to be phased in.

“I think that if you were to just pull that out in one budget you would have a significant hit on the general fund,” Hernandez said.

“Education is a lifelong pursuit and so to remove that from School Aid suggests that maybe we think of education differently in Michigan than as the Majority Leader does,” said Shirkey’s spokeswoman Amber McCann.

Minority Vice Chair of the House Appropriations committee, Representative Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and Whitmer say the state needs to stop this so-called “shell game.”

“People are tired of accounting gimmicks,” said Hoadley. “And in this case there is nothing illegal about what’s occurring, but it’s not…the intent of the money.”

A report from the Michigan League for Public Policy released in August of 2018, found that more than four billion dollars of School Aid Fund money has gone to universities and community colleges since 2010.