When the state legislature approved a bill to privatize state-run schools, it wasn’t the first time lawmakers had considered the idea.
But after some pushback from unions and conservative politicians, Michigan lawmakers passed a new bill Thursday that would take aim at one of the biggest threats to public education in the state.
The bill, which was sponsored by Republican Rep. Jason Holman, would strip nearly $1 billion from state aid to public schools, including the money that’s paid to local school districts.
Holman’s bill would also eliminate about $1.4 billion in state aid that went to districts that are run by charter schools, which are typically private schools run by for-profit corporations.
That leaves the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Charter School Association with the biggest share of the funding cuts in the bill.
The other groups would lose about $2.4 million, while the state would take about $3 billion in funding.
That’s about 1.5 percent of the total $25.7 billion in public education funding in the 2016-17 school year.
The cuts could affect Michigan students who attend school at charters, but also students who go to public school.
Some charters are struggling financially and are under pressure from local communities to cut costs, and some are seeking to close their doors.
The Michigan Education Alliance, for example, said it has seen a decline in enrollment and is now looking for additional financial aid from the state, according to the Lansing State Journal.
The charter schools would be eligible for up to $8.5 million in additional funding in 2019-20 and 2020-21, and up to an additional $9 million in 2021-22, according the bill, sponsored by Holman.
While some charter schools may be closing, many of them remain open.
The Detroit Free Press reported last month that charter school students, students from Detroit schools and students who attended public schools at the same school district are eligible for the additional funding.
Michigan’s charter schools have also received criticism from some parents and lawmakers who say that the funding is being used to fund private schools.
The new state law, which is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Kathy Szeliga, also removes money from state assistance for public schools that serve more than 1,000 students.
That means the state won’t be able to reimburse districts for providing a private school to students who need it most, such as in the case of a teacher who is transferred from public school to a charter school.
Schools that are open to students from charter schools could still receive support, according a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Education.
The new bill also removes $5.8 million from state funding for charter schools that receive state aid.
The Michigan Education Associations’ and Michigan Charter Schools’ representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is the second time in less than a year that state lawmakers have tried to strip state aid from public schools.
Last year, lawmakers passed legislation to remove about $5 billion from a state aid package, but the cuts would only apply to the state’s public schools and would not affect students who are enrolled at charter schools.
The legislation was passed in the fall of 2016, but was never brought to the floor for a vote.