Michigan House passes bill allowing charter schools to tap into property taxes

Legislation nearing Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk would let charter schools receive revenue from voter-approved property tax hikes.

The Republican-led House narrowly approved the bill 55-52 Thursday, largely along party lines, after a different version previously cleared a divided Senate.

The taxes now go to the counties’ traditional school districts on a per-student basis, on top of their state funding. The legislation would let charter academies get a share of the extra local funding.

Charters would only benefit when existing millages are renewed or new millages are approved.

The legislation would have the biggest impact in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas. Wayne County districts now receiving $376 per pupil would get $287 once charters are added. In Kent County, a $212 per-student grant would drop to $183.

“This bill is forcing public dollars into unaccountable for-profit charter schools, pushed by corporate special interest backers like Betsy DeVos,” said Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart in a statement after the bill passed.

“Voters should be able to use regional enhancement millages to ensure their neighborhood schools have the funds necessary to provide a quality education for their children,” she continued. “Communities who choose to pay more to help their schools shouldn’t have to see their hard-earned tax money pad the bottom line of for-profit charter companies.”