Juggling the DPS deficit and the Proposal A reboot

- Talk about opening a can of worms. Actually, two cans.

First you have the governor launching his plans to reduce the whopping deficit in the Detroit school system by using $715 million of your tax dollars, and now you have the GOP chair of the House budget committee broadly suggesting that while lawmakers grapple with that, they should also look at a re-boot of Proposal A.

Guess we're going to find out if lawmakers can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Please note the governor would prefer no chewing at this time as he tries to walk this Detroit package through a reluctant legislature.

"I don't think the support is there for it just yet," confides the senate GOP floor leader Sen. Mike Kowall.  "It was a little shocking to all our members to see how much money it really was."

How much?

$72 mil per year for the next ten years, if the CPA governor's bean counting is correct.

Although this fight has only just begun, the senate GOP leader concedes it will be a tough sell as "there's some things to like and a lot of things we have concerns over," confesses Sen. Arlan Meehoff.

And to make matters worse, assuming the governor inks a road fix deal with a tax hike, how do you suppose he will fare, turning around the next day, asking those same lawmakers to uncork a boat load of money for Detroit schools?

Highland Park Sen. Bert Johnson says "legislative fatigue" may set in which is just a nice way of saying lawmakers may shout, "enough is enough already" on the revenue front.

While the governor labors on that Rep. Al Pscholka woke up the town the other day broadly hinting that it was time to revisit Proposal A. You know the 1994 ballot proposal that shifted the funding of schools to the state sales tax away from local mileages in each school district.

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm suggested she would "tweak" Prop A but somehow lost her tweaker during eight years in office.

Mr. Pscholka thinks it's tweaking time again.

"Take a look at Proposal A?  I think that's a great question and I think that's something we ought to look at."

That noise you hear in the background are all the education lobbyist gearing up for battle cause when you are taking about how you divide the state dollars for schools, the anxiety needle is off the charts because ultimately there are winners and losers and no one wants to be in the latter category.

The Stevensville budget chair notes that school enrollments are down as some how Michganders are not procreating that much.  And the costs of running a high school vs. an elementary school are higher and perhaps a new formula would take that into account.

The debate is also driven by other districts that have their own financial challenges.  Sure, they are not as bad off as Detroit, but if you're a lawmaker with a troubled school, your Job One is to bring home the bacon for that school.

"I've got a district with a $15 million debt," Mr. Pscholka reports and he's not alone.

All of this could get pretty ugly if lawmakers try to roll their schools into the Detroit package which the governor also opposes.

The cost could go well beyond $715 million which could mean nobody would get anything.

Mr. Pscholka concurs that "we're going to deal with Detroit first and Detroit takes priority over these other districts."

Let's see what other lawmakers have to say about that as the worms crawl out of those two cans.
 


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