Skubick: The school funding gap between The Haves and The Have Nots

If you asked your dentist to fix the gap between your two front teeth - no big deal. But if you ask state lawmakers to fix the funding gap between the rich and poor school districts, don't hold your breath.

If you have resided in this state longer than a half hour, you know that funding for schools depends on your zip code.

Living in 48301 gets your Bloomfield Hills child about $8,900, not including other add ons that push the total over $12,000.

If you child is born in 48501, the funding is closer to $7,400 in Flint.

 The difference between the two amounts produces what they label in this town, the school funding gap between the haves and the have nots.

Dating all the way back to Gov. William Milliken, every modern-day governor and legislature has tried to close the gap. For years they nibbled away at it but it was never closed.

Then came Proposal A that turned education funding on its ear. The property tax was at the heart of why districts with expensive homes raised more money for schools compared to more modest dwellings in other areas.

With Gov. John Engler at the helm, out went the property tax and in came the sales tax to fund the schools. Michigan voters did that with widespread hopes that this would fill in the gap.

To be fair, nobody at the time promised to eliminate the gap but there was a clear pledge to reduce it.

The effort continues today with Gov. Rick Snyder at odds with some key legislative Republicans on how to fund the schools where a current $800 to $900 per student spread still exists.

After dodging the bullet in the campaign that he had cut education spending, Gov. Snyder plunked a $75 per pupil increase on the table on February 11th. Take that, Mark Schauer.

The ink was hardly dry on the document before Sen. Geoff Hansen (R-Hart) and his sidekick Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw) sat down and basically declared the gov's suggestion DOA.

The duo are mucho importante since they chair the K-12 budget subcommittees in the house and senate and what chairpersons want, they usually get.

"We must make sure we're doing the 2X formula," advises the affable Mr. Hansen.

The 2X what?

This is label they've given to the concept that the poorer districts should get two times what the richer schools are receiving.

And so 48031 would get a $41 per pupil boost while 48501 would receive $82.

Looks like redistribution of wealth or socialism if your prefer, but either way it is hardly what you would expect from two conservative Republicans.

However if you are going to close the gap, you can't give everyone the same thing, which is what the governor proposed. You do need to take a little Robin Hood action by stealing from the rich to help the poor  .

And just to sweeten the disagreement the governor proposed $75 million for at risk schools and it looks like Mr. Hansen may swipe that to feed into the 2X equation.

While the media loves disagreements, the governor's budget guy would not be dragged into a back and forth with his fellow GOP chairpersons.

Not on your life. John Roberts in a statement noted the governor offered his "best thinking" but he was open to listening to other idea to "find the best approach to funding the education of our kids."

Two choruses of Kumbaya to follow.

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