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Whitmer plan to stop raids on school aid fund faces headwinds

Empty classroom
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
3rd floor classroom of Detroit Redeemer High School

Michigan has been steering money in the School Aid Fund K-12 schools into higher education for almost a decade – and Governor Gretchen Whitmer says it’s time to stop. But she's facing some pushback from Republican lawmakers.

State Rep. 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 Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

But Whitmer and Democrats in the Legislature call the practice a shell game that needs to stop.

“People are tired of accounting gimmicks,” said state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). “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 $4 billion of School Aid Fund money has gone to universities and community colleges since 2010.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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