Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at Potter Elementary School

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer participates is a class discussion on government at Potter Elementary School in Flint, Mich. 

An increase of $240 per charter school student is one of the 147 line-items vetoed in the 2020 Michigan budget by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Conventional schools will still receive the per student increase denied charter schools.

Michigan’s charter schools currently serve an estimated 150,000 students, roughly 10 percent of all children attending K-12 education programs in the state. Additionally, charter schools scored twice as high as traditional public schools on the 2017 M-STEP standardized online tests.

The budget cut amounts to approximately $36 million, according to Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA).

“That amount may seem large,” he told The Center Square. “But it’s only a small fraction of the state’s $60 billion budget.”

In total, Whitmer issued 147 line-item vetoes Monday that cut $947 million from the budget. Whitmer also vetoed $375 million in road and bridge repairs because they were included in the general fund budget, not a capital bill. Whitmer has proposed a 45-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike to pay for road repairs, but Republican lawmakers have resisted.

In a press statement on the MAPSA website, Quisenberry expressed his indignation.

“Gov. Whitmer just told 150,000 Michigan students that she doesn’t value them as much as other students, and that’s outrageous,” he said.

“Charter schools are mostly located in the state’s most challenging urban centers, in cities like Detroit and Flint, where students need help the most. It boggles the mind that Gov. Whitmer would choose to directly target those students, and tell them that she values those students less,” Quisenberry said. “I would invite Gov. Whitmer to visit a school in Detroit or Flint, to look those students directly in the eyes, and tell them that she doesn’t feel they’re worth as much.”

In his conversation with The Center Square, Quisenberry said Whitmer was exercising administrative authority in a way he’s never before witnessed in Michigan. He said the governor’s comments Tuesday morning indicated she vetoed the increase in student funding for charter schools in order to gain the attention of Republican legislators.

“Many of our students belong to minority groups or come from impoverished communities,” he said. “Instead of helping these children, the governor is using them as pawns in a political game.”

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.