Michigan House Republicans say they want to put more money in the classrooms. In a school aid budget passed on Thursday, lawmakers voted to help school districts with employee retirement costs.
"They will not have to pay that full amount so we can equate that to a per pupil funding that actually stays in the classroom," said Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton.
In other words, with some retirement costs taken care of, school districts could have more money in their general fund to spend on students.
In addition, lawmakers proposed to provide up to $75 in extra per student funding to schools that adopt best practices determined by the state.
"We are again trying to change a culture to make sure that those folks are really doing what they claim they're doing and that way we can get them more money," Rep. Rogers said.
However, Democrats say the plan doesn't go far enough and argue that the added funding to schools doesn't come close to restoring what was cut last year.
"Many students saw increased class sizes, less materials in the classroom. I really don't feel the very small increase this year is enough," said Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing.
Rep. Bauer wants to see changes made before the budget is finalized. The senate passed its own version of the budget, which adds up to an additional $232 straight into the per student allowance as opposed to investing into employees' retirement.
The house, the senate and the governor will need to come to an agreement on a common budget before school districts know how much and how they'll be getting their state funding. Lawmakers say that decision could come by the end of May.