LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday that his next budget proposal likely won't include further cuts to public schools and universities.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Snyder said he thinks the state will be "finished with the cut model" for schools in 2012-13, after they endured some major reductions in the current fiscal year. Public schools were cut more than 2 percent, or about $1 billion, and the state's universities absorbed 15 percent cuts. Most universities raised tuition by nearly 7 percent as a result.
"We had to do a lot of difficult things" this year, Snyder said. "Hopefully now we're getting to a point of stability where we can be thoughtful about where do we invest back dollars."
Snyder would like to tie at least some K-12 funding in 2012-13 to student achievement, so school districts where students learn more get additional money.
"One of the things we'll look hard at is, are there ways we can make sure those dollars are really showing results, as opposed to simply passing on dollars," he said. In looking at student growth, it's "not what they're being taught, but what they've actually learned."
He said he'll work with the Legislature to decide how best to measure what students are learning.
Brad Biladeau of the Michigan Association of School Administrators was cautiously encouraged by the no-cuts talk but said he's not sure any of next year's school funding should be tied to student learning.
The Governor's Council on Educator Effectiveness, which is charged with providing a report by April 30 on the best student growth and assessment tool and on a state evaluation tool for teachers and school administrators, just received $200,000 for staffing and operations in a supplemental bill Snyder signed Tuesday, Biladeau said.
Biladeau said it would be a hard push for lawmakers to receive the report in late April and adopt the student assessment and teacher evaluation tools by the time they pass the budget in late May.
"Until we're able to determine what growth is, it may be difficult to tie that to any type of funding," he said.
The executive director of the President's Council, which represents the 15 state universities, said he was pleased to hear the governor assure universities they likely won't face further cuts.
"We've done the shared sacrifice for a decade now," Mike Boulus said, referring to Snyder's call for "shared sacrifice" to correct Michigan's budget woes. "It's time for shared investment."
Public teachers already are paying 3 percent of their salary toward the retiree health care costs, a move being contested in court. Snyder said he may look at applying the retiree health care coverage changes just implemented for new state workers to teachers as a way to decrease the state's unfunded liabilities.
Under the new law, state workers hired in 2012 or later will get an extra 2 percent to match money they place in their 401(k) or 457 accounts to help them save for future health care costs they'll incur in retirement. They won't get state health care coverage in retirement unless they buy it. State workers now employed can still get health care coverage in retirement.
Snyder said it would be fair to look at whether the same defined contribution system for retiree health care should be implemented for educators.
The governor expects to unveil his next budget proposal in early to mid-February. He hopes lawmakers can pass it by June 1, as they did this year.
Follow Kathy Barks Hoffman on Twitter (at)kathybhoffman