89.1 WEMU

Michigan House Speaker Pleased With Measure To Save Detroit School District

Mar 18, 2016

Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant)
Credit Courtesy Photo / gophouse.org

The state House has approved $50 million in emergency spending to keep Detroit Public Schools open through the school year.   

It taps about $50 million from the state’s tobacco settlement fund.  The state’s largest district probably won’t be able to pay teachers and staff after April 8 without the money, according to DPS’ emergency manager Steven Rhodes.

State House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) says the stopgap measure gives lawmakers more time to come up with a larger bailout package for DPS.  This is not something that allows us to now walk away from the DPS work, but rather gives us additional time to make sure that we get it right,” said Cotter.

The bill cleared the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Although most Democrats object to a measure that would subject DPS to a state financial oversight board.  Cotter says GOP lawmakers wouldn’t support the bill without more state oversight.  “The more oversight the better,” he told reporters after the vote.

The short-term funding bill amounts to a fraction of the $515 million in debt held by DPS.  That debt has ballooned since the state took control of the district in 2009.  

The legislation now goes to the state Senate.  The Republican Senate leader says he intends to hold a vote on that or a larger DPS bailout next week.

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— Jake Neher is the State Capitol Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org