Issues and legislation

Information on the current legislation and legislative news.

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Schools still losers in PPT elimination

A major sticking point in SB 1072—eliminating the Personal Property Tax (PPT)—has been no plan for replacing the lost revenue for local governments and school districts. Last week the Senate approved Republican amendments that would remedy the situation—at least in part. 

Amid questions, cyber school bill moves to Gov. for signing

SB 619 is on its way to Gov. Snyder for his signature after the Senate concurred with the House on the expansion of cyber schools. The vote was 23-14. Just as in the House, the bill did not receive immediate effect so SB 619 won’t go into effect until April 2013.

Emergency Manager repeal likely headed to court

In a split 2-2 decision, the Board of State Canvassers failed to approve the Public Act 4 referendum that would have put the repeal of the controversial Emergency Manager law on the November ballot.  That tie likely means the proponents of the repeal –which MEA supports –will be taking their case to court for a final ruling.

House passes cyber school bill, other “ed reforms”

Update: Rep. Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek) lost her request to reconsider the vote on SB 619 to expand charter schools, but she was successful in her request for a roll call vote on the immediate effect of the bill. The 57-52 vote failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority, so SB 619 will not go into effect until next spring.

April 26, 2012—House Republicans managed to strong-arm enough votes to barely pass SB 619—legislation to expand cyber schools—on a 56-54 vote. Thanks to intense lobbying efforts from MEA members and many other groups, the bill was vastly improved from the original passed by the Senate.

Fifteen amendments were offered, but only six Republican ones were adopted. There was no debate or explanation of any of the amendments. 

With the amendments, the bill now reads:

  • Through Dec. 31, 2013, there can only be five statewide authorizing bodies for cyber schools. The number can double the following year, but there can be no more than 15 after Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Cyber school enrollment can’t exceed 2,500 in the first year; not more than 5,000 in the second year; and no more than 10,000 in the third year and beyond.
  • The Department of Education can stop the authorization of any new cyber schools if the number of students enrolled is more than 1 percent of the total student enrollment in public schools for the 2012-13 school year. In 2014, the limit is 2 percent.

Legislature can’t agree on how schools can spend limited new monies

Budget season is in full bloom in the Legislature, with votes being held on budget bills moved by various appropriations committees. In most cases, those committees were stingier in their proposals than Gov. Snyder’s $48.2 billion proposed budget.

A budget must be in place by Sept. 30, but legislators plan on beating that deadline by having one in place by June 1.

While both the House and the Senate want to give more money to K-12 districts than the Governor does, they don't agree on how the money should be spent. Under the Senate proposal, richer districts would get $100 more per pupil and low-funded districts would get $200 more.

No guaranteed replacement for funding lost with PPT elimination

This week, the Senate Finance Committee began hearing testimony on SB 1065-1072, a package of bills that would eliminate the personal property tax (PPT) on industrial equipment collected by local governments.

Muskegon Heights schools gets emergency manager

Governor Snyder has appointed Donald Weatherspoon as Muskegon Heights School District emergency manager effective April 23.

Budget proposal strips funding from U of M, MSU

The latest targets of punitive budget proposals are the University of Michigan and Michigan State University who were stripped of state aid by Republican members of the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Legislators aren't pleased with the schools' position on stem cell research and mandatory student health insurance and both schools stand to lose out on a share of $40 million in performance funding.

School funding front and center in an election year

Spring has sprung.  Election season is underway. And, as usual, politicians are trying to shore up their record by allocating more money for public education.  However, after last year’s massive school budget cuts, voters won’t be tricked this year by politicians who are a day late and a dollar short.

Governor signs dues deduction ban

Late last week before leaving for Europe, Gov. Snyder signed HB 4929, making it illegal for school districts to bargain with their employees' contract language allowing for payroll deduction of dues.

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