Speaker Tate Shares that More Funding for the Opportunity Index is a Priority for the House

Last week in an interview with MIRS News, Michigan Speaker of the House Joe Tate shared that one of his top priorities is putting together a strong budget, which includes increasing investments for students who are the most underserved through the Opportunity Index.

The Opportunity Index, a new school funding formula approved by the legislature last year, provides additional funding to schools to address the needs of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The formula calls for an additional 35 percent to 47 percent above the foundation allowance based on the amount of poverty in the school district.

During the budget season, there are few non-negotiables for House Democrats, Tate told MIRS, including the School Aid Budget and improving the Opportunity Index. “Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park) led on that,” he added.

Schools with higher poverty concentrations often have fewer available resources, less experienced teachers, higher turnover, and increased exposure to safety concerns. In addition, studies show that students from low-income backgrounds need, on average, 100 to 200 percent more in funding than their wealthier peers. The Opportunity Index is currently only funded at about a third of what is needed, meaning the state would have to invest at least an additional $2 billion to fully fund what is in current law.

When talking about the Index in MIRS, Tate said, “I want to see if we can inch up, in terms of building and making a larger investment.”

The MIRS article notes The Education Trust-Midwest’s advocacy to encourage state leaders to fully fund the Opportunity Index by investing an additional $500 million per year for each of the next five years. EdTrust-Midwest and coalition partners with the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity have been key champions of the Index and greater investment for students who are underserved.

The House’s current budget recommendation increased funding for the Opportunity Index by $70.1 million while the Senate budget calls for an additional $122.6 million. The final budget is expected to be completed by the end of June.

By Published On: June 5, 2024Categories: Advocacy

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