Numbers support the criticism of Pettalia

It seems Rep. Pettalia’s supporter, Ms. Sommerfield, is quite sensitive about the criticism her state representative has received for underfunding K-12 education. Is the criticism deserved? According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, the budgets which Pettalia has supported have used $900 million from the School Aid Fund and spent it on community colleges and universities. Typically these institutions of higher learning have been funded out of the General Fund, but doing it this way, Pettalia freed up money in the General Fund and balanced out some of the $1.8 billion in tax breaks given to corporations. This was done at the expense of our K-12 school districts.

Since Proposal A passed in 1994, the School Aid Fund has been used exclusively for K-12. Don Gilmer, a Republican lawmaker, budget director under Republican Gov.John Engler, and member of the bipartisan committee that drafted the 1994 Proposal A law says: “a state budget balanced by taking money from the School Aid Fund violates the spirit and intent of Proposal A.” How did this action by Pettalia affect our K-12 schools? For the first year of Pettalia’s term, the foundation allowance decreased 6 percent for our AMA local districts which equated to a loss of $470 per pupil. During the two year period 2011-12 and 2012-13 the per pupil foundation allowance decreased by 5 percent, an average loss of $360 for each student. So, you decide. Is it fair to criticize Mr. Pettalia on his lack of support for K-12 education in the 106th district?

Robert R. Kennedy