HANCOCK - Democrat Scott Dianda thinks quality education in Michigan is needed to rebuild the state's economy, and he also thinks the Republicans in Lansing have put education at risk by cutting its funding.
During a press conference at BRIDGE Alternative High School building in Hancock surrounded by several supporters, including retired teachers, Dianda, who is running for the 110th Michigan House of Representatives District seat currently held by Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, said Republicans in Lansing have taken money from education funding while at the same time giving tax breaks to corporations.
"The Republicans cut education and they say they're for education," he said.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Scott Dianda, Democratic candidate for the 110th Michigan House of Representatives, center, speaks Tuesday during a press conference at BRIDGE Alternative High School in Hancock about his concerns for the cuts in education funding in Lansing.
Dianda said the B.R.I.D.G.E. Alternative High School, which closed this past summer after too few districts in the Copper Country Intermediate School District chose to support a millage to keep it running, was an example of an educational resource needed for some students who had trouble in traditional schools.
"Now, this building is housing a cyber school," he said.
Dianda said per-pupil funding isn't equal, with some districts in the state getting as much as $11,000 while others get $5,000, and that is hurting some smaller districts.
"It has to be equal," he said.
Dianda said charter schools are also taking money away from public education in Michigan, and they should not be funded by the state.
"I believe if you want a charter school, then pay for it," he said.
Because of funding cuts, Dianda said parents in some school districts are paying for some school supplies.
Funding for higher education has also been cut 15 percent, Dianda said, and that could negatively affect high-tech training needed to bring more companies into the state.
"If we're not for education, then shame on us," he said.
Although he spoke mostly about education funding in Michigan, Dianda also said other funding cuts are hurting seniors and the change in child tax credits is hurting children.
After he finished his prepared statement, Dianda said if elected he would work to bring together all members of the House of Representatives to work on and remedy the state's school-funding issues.
He said one of the first issues he would work on if elected is making per-pupil funding equitable.
"We need an average funding per student in Michigan," he said.