News From the Capitol, Feb 24, 2017

2017-02-24 | Michigan Association of School Boards

  • Income Tax Rollback Defeated in the House
  • Senate Education Committee Discusses Letter Grades
  • MDE Testifies on Partnership Model Proposal

Income Tax Rollback Defeated in the House

On Tuesday, the House adopted a substitute to House Bill 4001, which changed the bill from a complete repeal to a rollback to 3.9% over the next four years. Obviously this was better than total elimination, but our concerns with creating a hole in the budget that totaled more than $1 billion in four years remained.

By early Thursday morning, after being in session since 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, the House slightly modified the plan to add a freeze in the rate if the budget stabilization fund was less than $1 billion and put up HB 4001 for a vote. Despite it being a priority of  Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) and intense pressure from some outside groups, it was defeated by a vote of 52-55. All but one Democrat (Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet) and 12 Republicans voted no. The House moved to reconsider the vote, which simply leaves the bill available for another vote in the future. At this point, we are not sure that will happen.

Thank you to all who made calls and sent emails to your Representatives in opposition to this bill. We appreciate your advocacy! But we have one more ask—this was a very tough vote for the 12 Republicans who voted no and many of the Democrats. If you live in one of their districts, we urge you to contact them and thank them for protecting our state budget and investing in Michigan. This can be done in a variety of ways—a simple call or email to his/her office, a letter to the editor in your local paper, or attending a coffee hour or local meeting. However you do it, please take a moment and thank your Representative if they helped defeat this dangerous plan.

Here is the list of the 12 Republicans who voted no on the income tax repeal:

Rep. Chris Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Township)
Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland)
Rep. Kathy Crawford (R-Novi)
Rep. Daniela Garcia (R-Holland)
Rep. Larry Inman (R-Traverse City)
Rep. Jim Lilly (R-Park Township)
Rep. Dave Maturen (R-Vicksburg)
Rep. Mike McCready (R-Bloomfield Hills)
Rep. Dave Pagel (R-Berrien Springs)
Rep. Brett Roberts (R-Charlotte)
Rep. Jason Sheppard (R-Temperance)
Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-Grant)

A complete vote tally is available on our website.

Senate Panel Discusses School Accreditation System

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee heard presentations on accountability systems from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, as well as Dr. Nick Ceglarek, Superintendent of Hudsonville Public Schools, and Doug Greer, Director of School Improvement for Ottawa Area ISD. Both proposals highlighted the need to find a better way to engage parents in how their child is doing and how to compare similar schools with similar demographics to each other. Each presentation also highlighted the strong correlation between high poverty rates and the schools that appear near the bottom of the state’s top-to-bottom list. However, the Mackinac Center spoke in support of an A-F letter grading system, with clear and accessible data on the factors contributing to a summative letter grade for a district. Dr. Ceglarek and Mr. Greer spoke in support of a dashboard approach made up of primary and secondary indicators, but did not include an overall letter grade for the building.

MASB continues to be involved in conversations on what replacement mechanisms for these sections of law might look like and will keep you updated as each bill moves through the legislative process.

MDE Testifies on Partnership Model Proposal

This week, MDE testified in both the House and Senate School Aid Subcommittees to better explain their district partnership model. The model is new language within the School Aid Budget and includes a $3 million appropriation for implementation and assistance as determined by the State Superintendent.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston testified that he would like to use an A-F "report card system" that would give state officials an early warning if a school's academic performance was poor. The partnership model would be for those schools scoring an "F" on the report card. The model could include community colleges, a university, social services, mental health, the business community, foundations, school groups or a local intermediate school district. The groups would partner with MDE and the local school district to create an agreement to help a troubled school meet its new goals and raise its overall grade. Based on current data, approximately 14% of schools could be chosen to participate in this model.

The language, as it is currently written, would also allow schools that receive at-risk funding to become subject to the partnership model at the State Superintendent’s discretion regardless of their grade on the report card accountability system. 

We will keep you updated on this as it moves through the budget process. As this is a new section put in by MDE and the Governor’s office, we expect a lot of discussion surrounding it in the Legislature.