The history, implementation, and impact of Michigan Proposal A
It is the duty of every government to ensure that education is accessible to children. Investment in education is expensive and it therefore requires the involved parties to a reach consensus to ensure they all meet the cost. The legislations and policies on funding need to be scrutinized to achieve the goals of education. This paper focuses on the history, implementation, and impact of the Michigan proposal A.
The history of Proposal A began in 1963 when the state constitutional convention in Michigan made a decision to continue with its usually role of providing control and financing of operation of the school (Proposal, 2013). The locally elected school board had powers to make decisions. This proposal is one of the landmark events when it comes to school financing in Michigan. During the 80s and 90s, the state experienced a tax revolt where people wanted the tax to be limited (Proposal, 2013). Many schools operated on flawed funding formulas and therefore courts required that states get involved in creation of new funding systems for the schools. Even though Michigan at this time not under any review of the school funding structure. The system which was based on local property taxes and locally millage rate led to differences in education program as it was based on geographic location of the children. The system also led to owners paying more property taxes that superseded national levels.
Furthermore, the local schools districts received funding at different level as some of the poor districts schools funded their schools with low amount per child compared to rich regions where an estimate of 10000 US dollars is spent per child. In the 1993-1994 school year, the local property tax payers provided around 63 percent of total expenditure of the Michigan K-12 education, while the states provide 37 percent (Proposal, 2013). Therefore, this led to amendment of the legislation before it was taken to the members of the public for voting. The language of the proposal intended to make the proposal win the approval of the Michigan voters.
When the bill was taken to the electorate in 1994-1995, there was reduction in the local school property tax revenues as new states taxes/local state findings replaced and took over the revenues. The state provided approximately 80 percent while local property tax provided 20 percent in the funding of the schools (Price, 2013). Therefore, once implemented, the proposal provided a relief to the citizens as the state took over the largest percentage share in the funding of the schools.
Proposal A had various impacts on the school funding and the running of the schools in Michigan. One of the impacts is that the Michigan education became a state-run system as opposed to a system that featured local control of schools. The authority of local boards that used to operate the schools has since diminished. A new system was also devised for allocating funding/revenues in k-12 schools. The district power equalizing formula was eliminated and a new formula known as return per pupil foundation allowance adopted. The citizens had a relief in terms of reduced property tax and were able to reduce the inequality gap and the problem of inadequacy in school funding. For instance, by 2012-2013 since the coming into operation of the proposal in 1994-1995, the equity gap had reduced from $ 6,254 to $ 4,888 (Price, 2013).
The positives that resulted from the change to this system of funding in the proposal A is that it reduced taxes on the national level. Property owners in Michigan are now paying less compared to what they could be paying if proposal A did not pass. Another positive result brought by the proposal is reduction in the level of differences in school districts funding (ORTA, 2002). Before the proposal, the difference between high expenditures and expenditure in district was around 3 to 1 respectively. The difference between these two expenditures is estimated to be in the ratio of 2: 1 in the district level (Mattoon, 2004).
Despite these positives, there are also some flaws emerging following the approval of the proposal. The first negative is lack of enough funds to the schools as stipulated in the inherent language of proposal A. This has increased the amount of government budget, making it to transfer colossal sums of money estimated at $500,000 every year from general fund to the school aid funding to ensure that that there is systematic flow in revenue collection. This will see the government strain and eventually may not be able to finance education (Price, 2013). Another negative is the mismatch in the high chances to predict the sources of funds and in costs and revenues. The funds meant for capital expenditure is more than the budget mismatch currently experienced and requires interventions through legislation. Proposal A also does not acknowledge the actual cost differences of providing education to students that have different needs (Zimmer & Jones, 2005). Therefore, it is prudent that a plan is implemented to provide a transition support in affected districts that have experienced decline in enrolment because of these challenges.
In conclusion, even though the equity problem, inadequate funding, and predictability are still experienced in Michigan school funding, there has been progress since Proposal A came into operation. This is evidenced by the fact that around 343 districts in Michigan have identical foundation grants.
Mattoon, R. (2004). School Funding Ten Years after Michigans Proposal A: Does Equity Equal Adequacy? Chicago Fed Letter. Number 203. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 4: 1-23.
Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis. (2002). School finance reform in Michigan proposal a: retrospective. Retrieved from: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/propa_3172_7.pdf
Price, W. (2013). Michigan School Finance: A handbook for understanding state funding policy for Michigan public school districts (3rd Edition) ISBN 978-1-4675-0165-1 (pbk)
Proposal A. (2013). Background Information. Retrieved from: http://www.educ.msu.edu/epfp/meet/01-26-04propa.htm
Zimmer, R., & Jones, J. (2005). Unintended Consequence of Centralized Public School Funding in Michigan Education. Southern Economic Journal, 71(3):534-544.