The Michigan Education Association that helped elect the state’s first Democratic government trifecta in four decades is blasting “deep cuts” to education the majority Democrat House, Senate, and governor approved in the 2025 budget this week.

“We cannot celebrate all aspects of this budget,” MEA President Chandra Madafferi said in a statement Thursday. “There were deep cuts to categorical funding for school safety and student mental health – cuts that will need to be navigate at the local level to keep our schools safe learning spaces for all students and employees. Our hope is that state lawmakers will return after the summer break to pass a supplemental budget that funds these critical student mental health and safety priorities.”

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“Without additional funding through a supplemental budget,” Madafferi said, “our state risks falling short of providing the quality public education that every student deserves and needs.”

The comments come in response to an $83 billion budget approved by Democrats that’s based largely on recommendations from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who praised its passage on Thursday.

“We are once again setting Michigan up for success by making record investments that will benefit everyone across the state without raising taxes by a penny,” Whitmer said.

She contends “this budget puts students first by making historic investments to improve learning outcomes from pre-K through college, so that every child can get a world-class education.”

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Others have a different perspective.

State Rep. David Martin, R-Davison, noted the spending diverts $670 million from teachers’ retirement accounts, cuts school safety and mental health grant funding by more than $300 million, leaving just $26.5 million to help schools fund resource officers, mental health services, and other critical programs that protect kids.

“Gutting school safety and mental health funding is a serious mistake,” Martin said. “All students should feel safe and supported when they’re at school. I want to know what special project the Democrats who crafted this budget think is more important than the health and safety of our kids.”

“Our kids are growing up in a world filled with danger. Students face physical dangers in schools and then go home to face virtual attacks on social media,” said Rep. Donni Steele, R-Orion Township. “Yet, Democrats disregarded the historic struggles our kids are dealing with and decided to strip mental health services and school resource officers anyway.”

Steele noted the budget also cut road funding by 33% compared to fiscal year 2024, despite a recent report from the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council that found “roads are deteriorating faster than the agencies can repair them” and predicted more than half will be in poor condition by 2035.

While Democrats cut more than $300 million from school safety and student mental health initiatives, they approved more than $334 million in pet projects for lawmakers that includes a $1 million ski jump in Ironwood, $17 million for zoos in Detroit and Lansing, $1.5 million for Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, $1 million for the Lansing Lugnuts baseball stadium, $2 million for Hamtramck’s Negro League Field, $2 million for a Detroit boxing gym, $3.2 million for land on Mackinac Island, and other spending, Bridge Michigan reports.

Democrats also spent millions on drones, electric vehicle chargers, e-bike incentives, and “free” tampons, while leaving school funding flat.

“This is … the first budget in over a decade that does not include an increase in per-pupil funding. Mental health and student safety were also cut by 90%. These cuts were unnecessary, and it is disheartening to see so much wasteful spending and pet projects take priority over student performance, mental health support and safety,” said Sen. John Damoose, R-Harbor Springs.

The MEA contends the situation “has laid bare a critical issue” involving a “lack of adequate revenues for public education and other critical state priorities,” suggesting lawmakers “must have an honest conversation about state revenues so Michigan can build world-class schools, better roads and infrastructure, safer communities and a stronger economy that works for everyone.”

That position, however, ignores the fact that Whitmer and Democratic allies in the Legislature have spent heavily on education in recent years with little to show for it.

The number of young children not in school, fourth graders not proficient in reading, eighth graders not proficient in math, and high school students not graduating on time, have all increased since Whitmer took office, according to a 2024 Kids Count Data Book recently released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Michigan League of Public Policy.

That report followed another in April from U.S. News & World Report that compared the best high schools across the country.

“Michigan ranked 31st in a comparison of states with the highest percentage of top-ranked public high schools, dropping five spots from its ranking last year of 26th when it tied with Kentucky,” according to the report.

Other evidence of the decline in education in the Great Lakes State came from fourth-grade reading scores in the National Assessment for Educational Progress, which plummeted from 32nd nationally in 2019 to 43rd in 2022.