Transportation Funding Plan Goes to Ballot, Education Attacks Stopped for Now
Early this morning, the Michigan Legislature approved a ballot question that would be asked of voters in May which would do the following:
• Increase the state sales tax to 7 percent,
• Generate $1.2 billion in new transportation funding in three years when it is fully phased-in,
• Generate an additional $300 million for school funding (about $200 per pupil), and
• Bring back the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families.
The ballot question would also amend the Michigan Constitution to dedicate the School Aid Fund as strictly for Pre-K through community college education. This would make it more difficult for future legislatures to divert school funding for other uses. Currently, $200 million of the $1.5 billion higher education budget comes from the SAF. As part of the transportation deal, Republican and Democratic leadership have committed to replace the lost school aid revenue with monies from the General Fund.
Additionally, the legislature passed a bill which requires the state conduct a comprehensive school funding cost study — which would be the first time the state would ask and get an honest answer to the question of how much it actually costs for the full education of a student in Michigan. This would happen regardless of the ballot proposal passing.
There are other factors as a part of this deal that will be of importance to our union, which we will explain in detail in the coming days. Lawmakers also took no action on the following bills:
Third Grade Reading Retention
A-F School Grades on Standardized Testing
Expansion of the Educational Achievement Authority
Financial Early Warning/Emergency Manager
Attacks on the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System
Repeal of Prevailing Wage
Rigging the Electoral College
Teacher Merit Pay
Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Though we claim victory having prevented many bad education policy ideas from becoming law, we know that they will be among the first bills to be introduced in January when the new Legislature is sworn in.
Thank you all for your hard work. In this lame duck session, nearly 100 AFT Michigan members came to Lansing, we sent more than 4,000 emails and made hundreds of phone calls to legislators advocating for our values. Our collective action made a difference – and we will need to continue taking action during the next legislative term.
Legislative Mobilization Coordinator