News From the Capitol, May 15, 2015

2015-09-04 | Michigan Association of School Boards

  • Legislation Introduced to Stop Education Funding Adequacy Study
  • Prevailing Wage Repeal Passes Senate
  • House Committee Passes Bills on Legislative Subpoena Powers
  • School Bond Loan Fund Clean-Up Bills Passed by Committee

 

Legislation Introduced to Stop Education Funding Adequacy Study

Recently, Senate Bill 319 was introduced to repeal the law requiring an adequacy study on education funding. The law, Public Act 555 of 2014, was agreed to as part of the road funding debate last December. However, that particular issue was not tied to the passage of the road proposal. MASB strongly opposes repealing this law as conducting a study on the true cost of educating a student is one of our legislative priorities. We urge you to contact your Senator to oppose this bill as well. MASB released the following statement on Thursday:

The Michigan Association of School Boards issued the following statement in regard to Sen. Mike Shirkey’s (R-Clarklake) bill (Senate Bill 319) to repeal the bipartisan solution to conduct an adequacy study for school funding:

“Sen. Shirkey shouldn’t be turning away from valuable data that could ensure Michigan provides a quality education to every student, every time,” said Don Wotruba, Deputy Director of MASB. “We have reached a time in education where there are many choices on how to receive it. Each variation comes with a different expenditure, yet we provide revenue at a fixed amount. We must examine the costs of delivering education and adjust our school funding system accordingly. As well, we must examine the distribution system.

“To propose a bill that would eliminate this study that was agreed upon by a bipartisan majority in both chambers just a few months ago, would be irresponsible. Gov. Snyder consistently speaks to the need for more and better data to help make informed decisions on behalf of the people of Michigan. We whole-heartedly agree and implore Senate leadership to stand by the commitment made in Public Act 555 of 2014.”

Prevailing Wage Repeal Passes Senate

This week, a Senate Committee and the full Senate passed Senate Bills 1-3 that would repeal the prevailing wage law and remove any reference to it in the local government acts and the school code. The bills were passed by a Senate Committee on a party-line vote on Wednesday, and passed the full Senate by a vote of 22-15 on Thursday.

Proponents argue these bills would save taxpayer dollars. Opponents argue that it lowers the wages of workers and removes the level playing field for bids. The bills are now before the House Committee on Commerce and Trade and it is not known when that committee will consider them.

House Committee Passes Bills on Legislative Subpoena Powers

The House Committee on Oversight and Ethics passed House Bills 4522-4523 this week. These bills would grant legislative committees the same ability to subpoena and investigate records of local units of government and schools that they now have for state departments and agencies. The bills were amended to state that only the committee given the power to receive state audit reports would be granted the power to subpoena.

MASB remains opposed to these bills as they expand the power of the Legislature far beyond what is reasonable. We believe this power is already allowed on a case-by-case basis.

The bills were passed and are now before the full House for its consideration and review.

School Bond Loan Fund Clean-Up Bills Passed by Committee

House Bills 4496-4497 were passed by committee this week and we are expecting House floor action pretty quickly. These bills are clean up from the 2012 school bond loan fund changes. In 2012, the law was changed and eliminated the ability of schools to do refunding on their bonds regardless of savings to voters or the school district. Under the current bills, refunding will be reinstated as long as it actually provides savings. The bills also extend the repayment period for the bonds. This change will be very helpful for districts as borrowing costs remain low.