All levels of public education now have their state funding for the
coming years as Governor Jennifer Granholm signed the budgets for K-12,
community colleges and higher education Tuesday.

At a signing ceremony at Sexton High School in Lansing, Ms. Granholm
said the budgets show continued emphasis on education, but called on the
Legislature to pass her proposed changes to the Michigan Merit Award to
further that emphasis.

The school aid budget (SB 1095, PA 342), which funds K-12 education,
totals $13.1 billion, a $336.6 million increase from the current year.  
Among other changes, the spending increase brings the foundation grant
up $210 per student to $7,085.

The bill also provides $20 million for a middle school math and science
program.   "Because we've increased the expectations for high school
math and science, we want to make sure middle schoolers are able to jump
over the bar when they get there," Ms. Granholm said.

"We're on the path to economic recovery," Ms. Granholm said as she
signed the budget.

She said improving education was essential to improving the state's
economy.   "The way we're going to transform our economy is to invest in
the brains of our future workforce," she said.

And she argued that was why the changes she had proposed to the Merit
Award were essential.   "All students: we want to encourage them to go
beyond," she said.   "The new definition of merit is you got to have a
2.5 grade point average and you've got to stay in school."

So far the Legislature has balked at the change, which would use
tobacco settlement dollars to provide $4,000 scholarships to every
student attending a two-year post-high school program.

Asked whether she was concerned over reports that much of the
foundation grant increase would be eaten up by health care and pension
cost increases, Ms. Granholm said health care particularly was a part of
the local bargaining agreement and could be adjusted at that level.  
"They have the freedom to do that now," she said.

But she said she was also willing to look at legislated plans to
address health care costs.   "If there is a consensus about how we can
go forward, I'm eager to have that discussion," she said.

Before the press conference, Ms. Granholm also signed the community
colleges budget (SB 1082, PA 341) providing $289.9 million, a 2.9
percent increase.   Actual increases for individual schools ranged from
2.4 percent to 7.2 percent based on a funding formula in the bill.   The
budget also provides $3.3 million for at-risk students.

The higher education budget (SB 1088, PA 340), also signed before the
press conference, provides universities in the state $1.8 billion.  
Most of the funding, $1.5 billion, is for operations of state
universities with each school receiving at least a 2.5 percent

The budget also includes $258 million for grants and scholarships,
$33.8 million for the Agriculture Experiment Station and $29.2 million
for the Cooperative Extension Service.   The latter two programs are
located at Michigan State University.

K-16 PROPOSAL:  While Ms. Granholm praised the three budgets for
increasing funding for education, she continued her opposition to the
proposal by the K-16 Coalition for Michigan's Future that would tie
those increases to inflation.   "I don't want to hamstring the budget,"
she said.

But she declined to say what, if any, role she might play in campaigns
to oppose the initiative now on the ballot.