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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are going to miss their self-imposed June 1 deadline to complete the state budget because Republicans can't agree on how to split up $36 million in university funding.
The GOP-controlled House and Senate passed portions of the budget Thursday that aren't tied to education, sending them to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. But spending bills for public schools, community colleges and universities won't be wrapped up until next week. The House plans an unusual Friday session to vote on the education package, but the Senate won't return until Tuesday.
Lawmakers had hoped to finish the $48.5 billion budget by June 1 as they did last year, when they got it done at the fastest rate in three decades.
But differences still loom over how much university funding should be tied to lower tuition rates, the number of graduates in high-demand areas and issues such as whether Michigan State University must stop requiring all students to get health care coverage and the degree of stem cell research reporting required from the University of Michigan. A deal could be announced Friday when the higher ed conference committee is scheduled to meet.
A major part of the budget fell into place Thursday when a separate conference committee reached a deal on $12.9 billion in funding for the state's public schools.
The spending plan would give hundreds of districts that now get the minimum amount of state aid $120 more per student this fall, raising the per-pupil grant from $6,846 this year to $6,966. Mid-level and wealthier districts wouldn't get the extra money, although they could qualify for additional funding in technology and district performance grants or by privatizing transportation and student meals.
The changes still leave the lowest-paid school districts getting nearly 5 percent less than the $7,316 per student they received in 2010-11. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature reduced state aid for the current year so they could use about $1 billion of the school aid fund for community colleges and universities, although many districts were able to earn back some one-time money by adopting financial practices supported by the governor.
On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton of Huntington Woods voted against the conference committee compromise because she said it didn't go far enough to restore funding after last year's "catastrophic" $470-per-student cut to school districts, a sentiment echoed by other Democrats.
"We have done nothing to bring them back to even where they were two years ago," she said. "They've gotten deeper and deeper into the hole. And on that basis, this is not acceptable."
Republicans said they'd like to provide all districts with a per-pupil increase, but the state couldn't afford it. They noted that giving $80 million more to those getting the $6,846 minimum would help narrow the gap between the poorest and richest districts, and having the budget done so early gives school districts the information they need to complete their own budgets.
The compromise doesn't include Snyder's proposal to tie a portion of school funding to student performance. Snyder said last year he wanted to set up a bonus fund for the 2012-13 academic year that would reward school districts and individual schools that show children are learning what they need to know to advance to the next grade.
But with no good way to measure individual student growth from year to year, the compromise instead offers $50 million in grants to school districts willing to purchase new technology equipment and experiment with ways to better measure student achievement.
Lansing school board member Peter Spadafore said his district will see very little additional funding in the next academic year since it already receives more than $6,966 per student. The district plans to close buildings and may lay off staff this summer to deal with rising costs.
Spadafore also was concerned that the budget bill could jeopardize how his school district and others use federal funds to pay for all-day kindergarten. Lawmakers tried to address that, but it's unclear if the federal government will continue to let Michigan school districts use the money for at-risk children to pay for all-day kindergarten.
The state will continue to give school districts $155 million to pay a portion of their contributions to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System and will put $130 million into MPSERS to pay down some of the unfunded liability owed on retirees' health care costs.
Follow Kathy Barks Hoffman on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kathybhoffman .