Hopefully, increase in education funding is just the beginning

Those concerned about education funding in Michigan got a bit of good news Wednesday when Governor Rick Snyder released his $52 billion budget. The governor proposed a 3 percent increase in K-12 spending and as much as a 6 percent increase in funding for the state’s 15 public universities.

The proposed increase to higher education marks the third straight year of increases, after four consecutive years of cuts.

However, aid to state-funded universities is currently down one-third from what it was just seven years ago.

While you won’t find a K-12 administrator criticizing the governor or his school funding increase, there still remains a large gap from funding levels of a few years ago. We couldn’t help but notice this week that Puerto Rico, in reaction to the downgrade by Standard and Poors of the country’s debt to “junk bond” status, made across-the-board cuts in every aspect of government spending … except education. It seems in Puerto Rico education is at the top of the spending food chain, while in Michigan, education spending was among the first items to be reduced.

But to be fair to the governor and Republican-controlled legislature, their plan, as painful as it was to education, worked. Michigan has rebounded from the so-called “lost years” of Democratic control and the state is currently sitting on a $1 billion surplus.

While we applaud the governor’s apparent renewed commitment to education funding, we hope it is the beginning and not the end.

We cannot help but notice the increase in education spending and tax cuts for lower-income Michiganders comes in an election year.

We are giving the governor the benefit of the doubt and assume this is a sign of things to come … but we will be watching this very closely.