Michigan State Police Awards $500K in Grants to Fight Campus Sexual Assault
A total of $500,000 was awarded through a Michigan State Police program to prevent sexual assault on college campuses and was available to all public and private colleges in Michigan. The funding comes a year after the US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office identified dozens of campuses under investigation for Title IX violations, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Grand Valley State University. For the full list of grant awardees, click here.
Campuses awarded funds where employees are represented by AFT Michigan are listed below.
- Central Michigan University
- Eastern Michigan University
- Ferris State University
- Kalamazoo Valley Community College
- Michigan State University
- University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint)
- Western Michigan University
Governor Signs Educator Evaluation Law
After years of discussion, the House and Senate sent a bill to Governor Snyder’s desk to deal with educator evaluation. The bill, SB 103, sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-Port Huron) was given immediate effect when it was signed into law as PA 173 on Thursday. In the new law, 25 percent of teacher evaluations will be determined by student growth scores for the next three years, and 40 percent beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. Furthermore, only 50 percent of the growth portion of the evaluation (12.5 percent of the overall evaluation until 18-19, and 20 percent of the overall evaluation thereafter), may be based on the state assessments. Schools can use nationally-normed or locally-adopted assessments, student learning objectives, or progress of individualized education program goals.
For the remainder of the evaluation, local school districts will need to select or develop a research-based evaluation framework of professional practice. School districts will be required to train teachers in the evaluation model, provide written feedback to teachers within 30 days of observation, and ensure that administrators and observers are thoroughly trained in the evaluation model.
If you have questions on the implementation of this new law, please contact me or your AFT Michigan staff representative.
Legislature Passes Road “Fix” Plan
Governor Snyder and leaders from the Michigan House and Senate have worked for the past several months to try and find a common-ground solution for transportation funding. As of early October, it seemed like the effort was failing with House and Senate leaders sniping at each other over a failure to move forward. However, in late October, the House suddenly put forth a proposal that became the foundation of a final agreement. The Senate adopted the plan with a few modifications, and the House concurred with the Senate changes on November 3.
As of this writing, Governor Snyder has indicated his intent to sign the bills into law.
The House plan will add an additional $1.2 billion for road construction and maintenance (with about $60 million of that amount being used for public transit). Half of that $1.2 billion will come from new revenues in the form of an increase in the Motor Fuel Tax of 7.6 cents per gallon and a hike in auto registration fees of approximately 20%. The remaining $600 million will come by shifting that amount from other General Fund expenditures. In addition, the plan offsets the tax increase by increasing the Homestead Property Tax Exemption. With these pieces in place, the General Fund (or the approximately $10 billion annual amount that is unrestricted) will have to be cut by $800 million when this plan is fully phased in.
Added in to the road funding plan was a bill that will restrict future Income Tax revenues. Senate Bill 414 creates a formula by which the Michigan Income Tax will be automatically rolled-back in any year in which increases to General Fund revenues outpace inflation by a certain amount set by a formula created in the bill. This would be a similar mechanism to the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” law passed in Colorado in 1992. After that state saw massive cuts to state support of higher education and road maintenance, voters approved a ballot measure placing the law on hold in 2005.
The House Fiscal Agency estimates that if such a formula had been in place over the past two budget years (years when the economy was pulling out of the Great Recession), it would have mandated a cut in the 2016 Michigan Income Tax from 4.25% to 3.92%. The effect of this would have been a General Fund revenue reduction of nearly $680 million. Moreover, Senate Bill 414 has no mechanism to allow for the Michigan Income Tax to come back up during a decline in the economy. This “ratchet-effect” would prevent the tax rate from increasing to offset economic downturns, and has the potential to create perpetual budget difficulties in the future.
This plan to fix the roads should – once it is fully phased in – allow an additional $1.2 billion annually to be dedicated to road construction and maintenance. The problem is that it also has the capability of requiring massive cuts in other areas in order to fix our roads and bridges. Once the initial shift in funds from the General Fund to roads is absorbed, the regular growth in the economy would eventually make up for those cuts. However, as SB 414 becomes law along with the rest of the package, those cuts would never be restored, and there is a great likelihood that more will be necessary in the future.