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Whitmer Pushes for Real Budget Solutions at Jackson School Visit

Sep 02, 2019

MEA Capital Comments

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ventured into the Jackson County turf of Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) on Thursday to illustrate the struggles schools are facing without a state budget and press Republican leaders to put real solutions on the table.

At Jackson High School, the school year started with two administrators at the helm instead of the four needed in a building of 1,200 students, Superintendent Jeff Beal said. The district recently hired two new administrators “on good faith,” who won’t start until next month to save money.

“We know we need more boots on the ground to be able to provide for our students, but we delayed that expenditure,” Beal said he told Whitmer.

Superintendents across the county are reporting delayed hiring and technology and equipment purchases based on the uncertainty of operating without knowing how much money will be available, he added.

“We also talked about not messing with pensions,” Beal said. “We’ve got lots of folks who anticipate when they retire that their pension is going to be there for them. I don’t want the government taking out a credit card consolidation loan with our pension money.”

Whitmer has proposed a budget that would tap new revenue for road repairs and produce the largest education spending increase in 24 years, but Republican leaders in the House and Senate have responded with more shell games and half measures, Whitmer said.

According to the capitol news service Gongwer, Shirkey favors a plan to bond and reamortize the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) to pay for road repairs – an idea Whitmer has labeled a non-starter.

She restated her opposition to the “pensions for potholes” scheme on Thursday.

“This is a competitive issue for us as a state, and that’s why I’m determined to get it right and not to take money out of teacher pensions to fill potholes,” she said.

Learn more about the irresponsible “Pensions for Potholes” schemes at — and contact your lawmakers to oppose them!

Whitmer noted she submitted her budget in March – including $507 million in additional education spending to rebuild student supports, literacy services, and career-technical education, among other initiatives. The Legislature left for the summer in June without approving a spending plan for the first time in nine years — they returned to work this week.

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