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NCLB Outrages

Feds Strain State Coffers

LANSING — As the state struggles to keep its budget in balance — including an unexpected shortfall of up to $400 million in the current fiscal year — a new study shows Michigan is paying heavily for doing what the federal government tells it to do.

Unfunded federal mandates — including such things as the costs associated with the No Child Left Behind national education reform, food stamps, Medicaid and special education — account for $812 million of state spending. That’s 4.1 percent of the money spent to pay for K-12 education and day-to-day state government operations.

“It’s a significant problem, and we’re obligated to fund these programs or face financial penalties,” said Greg Bird, spokesman for the Department of Management and Budget. “It’s very troublesome — especially in these challenging economic times.”

In its report, the National Conference of State Legislatures concluded that states now are paying $29 billion to implement federal programs that the federal government isn’t paying for.

The growing burden ranges from a high of 9 percent of general fund spending in Alabama to a low of 2.1 percent of spending in Hawaii.

“Unfortunately for states, the federal government continues to overstep its bounds by imposing its will on state governments,” said Utah House Speaker Marty Stephens, who also serves as president of the conference.

— Charlie Cain
Detroit News


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