Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):
Just a short note about the ways in which Proposal 1 would alter the constitutional text pertaining to the funding of primary and secondary education in Michigan.
Several sources—including the Michigan Education Association (MEA), the Michigan Federation of Teachers (MFT), certain Democratic state legislators, and various progressive bloggers—have repeatedly claimed that Proposal 1 will improve school funding in Michigan. I wonder whether any of them actually understands the specific manner in which the text of our state constitution will be altered if Proposal 1 passes.
Proposal 1, if adopted, will constitutionally deprioritize the funding of primary and secondary schools in Michigan. For starters, it would force primary and secondary schools to compete for funding with three brand new School Aid Fund uses. But even less understood is the fact that, contrary to what you might have heard from the MEA, MFT, Governor's office, or television ads, the proposed constitutional amendment would not guarantee any additional sales-tax revenue for the School Aid Fund. In fact, the amendment would allow the Legislature to deposit less sales-tax revenue into the School Aid Fund than it does today.
Whereas the Michigan Constitution currently requires the Legislature to dedicate 60 percent of all sales taxes imposed "at a rate of 4%" to the School Aid Fund, the new constitutional text, if adopted, would require the Legislature to dedicate 60 percent of sales taxes imposed "at a rate of not more than 5%" to the School Aid Fund. Naturally, the phrase "at a rate of not more than 5%" would encompass a rate of 4%, 3%, 2%, 1%, or even 0%. Thus, rather than requiring the Legislature to raise the sales tax by one percent and dedicate a portion of the resulting additional revenue to the School Aid Fund, the new constitutional text would actually remove the 4% sales-tax guarantee that is presently set forth in the second sentence of Article 9, section 11, and allow the Legislature to decrease or eliminate the School Aid Fund's revenue derived from sales taxes other than that generated by the additional 2% approved by the voters as part of Proposal A in 1994.
It's just a little something to think about next time you're accused of being irrational for questioning the wisdom of Proposal 1. I personally believe that our current constitutional protections for K-12 school funding are worth protecting. Don't you?