LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – The Michigan State Board of Education is beginning to voice concerns about how funding will change in light of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s new Education Budget.

The proposed Fiscal Year 2025 budget shifts significant funding, roughly 75% from the Department of Education, and transfers it to Governor Whitmer’s new Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential (MiLEAP), among several other state departments.

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Current Department of Education Board Member, Tom McMillin (R-Oakland Township), questioned some of the transferred costs including a nearly $415 million federal payment for the Great Start preschool program and more than $15 million MDE would lose to MiLEAP.

“I’m uncomfortable — the more money, the more power,” said McMillin, according to the Detroit News, of the transfers to MiLEAP. “I am seeing the (budget) numbers going down (for MDE). It’s being significantly cut. … A line has been crossed. I am very certain of that.”

For a full copy of the Governor’s budget recommendation see here.

MiLEAP and Legislators Responds to Criticism:

Acting Director of the Department Michelle Richard expressed that MiLEAP is focused on strengthening “learning from preschool through postsecondary” according to the Detroit News.

““This much is clear: We can’t keep doing what we’ve always done and expect a better outcome,” she added, according to the Detroit News.

State Senator Rosemary Bayer (D-West Bloomfield), expressed her support of the shift.

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“What we have to do at MDE is really focus on improving performance overall in the traditional model of school,” Bayer said.

MiLEAP Received Pushback Over the Summer:

The Michigan State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve a motion by 8-0 in August to investigate the constitutionality of the department, in part because it sees the new department’s responsibilities as overlapping with its own.
“There appears now to be potentially two departments with overlapping authority over “all public education,” particularly preschool public education,” according to the SBE.

Following the vote, the SBE directed the State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice to request a Michigan attorney general’s opinion to provide constitutional clarity on the creation of the new group.

Representative Alicia St. Germaine (R-Harrison Township) previously argued that the program is an extension of the Governor’s own agenda.
“At a time when we should be working collectively to address the education crisis brewing in our state, the governor has chosen to act unilaterally and push her own plan,” St. Germaine said. “Adding more bureaucrats and new layers to our education system without fixing the problems that already exist is not going to help our kids. Shifting billions of dollars away from classrooms to fund unnecessary projects for politically connected districts won’t teach kids to read and write. This runaway train needs to be stopped.”

AG Nessel Declines to Weigh in Constitutionality:

At the end of August, AG Nessel offered her position on the constitutionality of Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order (EO) creating MiLEAP.

She shared her belief that the EO said nothing in it that should be construed to diminish the constitutional authority of the State Board of Education, and therefore “the plain language of the EO indicates that it is intended to create a spirit of cooperation, coordination, and collaboration between MiLEAP and the Board that will complement the Board’s activities, while also specifically precluding MiLEAP from infringing on the Board’s constitutional authority. If that intent is honored, it creates a set of circumstances under which the EO would be valid. As a result, the EO is clearly not unconstitutional on its face.”

Nessel clarified that her response, “should not be construed as any type of opinion, as I believe that, on its face, the EO presents no constitutional concern warranting the issuance of an opinion, but I also wanted to personally respond to you and the Board with my reasons for that belief.”