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Senate GOP: Raid on school aid surplus possible

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By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wkar/local-wkar-906031.mp3

LANSING, MI – State Senate Republicans say it may be necessary to use a surplus in Michigan's School Aid Fund to cover shortfalls in other parts of the budget.

School officials were happy with the news that K-12 education would not face a new round of cuts this year. Sales tax revenues that pay for schools are exceeding expectations. But other taxes are coming up short, and the state owes refunds to a lot of businesses. So lawmakers are looking for other ways to pay for local governments, higher education, and other services.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says school aid surplus could help with that.

"It has to be an option," Bishop says. "We've got an obligation to balance the budget, so we've got to be able to look at things as a whole. The key is you've got to make sure you prioritize key functions and core functions of government."

School lobbyists are working feverishly to shield the surplus from a raid by the Senate. The House version of the K-12 budget uses some of the surplus to restore part of last year's cuts to schools.

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