WHAT'S NEW: Legislative Update from AFT Michigan

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Legislators return to districts for Spring Recess

 

After a busy start to the 2017-2018 Legislative Session, the Michigan Legislature has adjourned for two weeks to work in district. We encourage our members to attend coffee hours with your legislators to hear their updates as well as to share your thoughts and concerns. We’ve compiled a list of legislator coffee hours which have been publicly announced, though this list is not comprehensive. It can be found here. If your legislator does not have any listed office hours, we encourage you to call their offices to find times or make appointments.

 

 

You’ll find information on a number of high priority bills under consideration below. A complete list of bills tracked by AFT Michigan can be found here.

 

Knezek Offers Resolution Demanding Snyder Drop the Appeal and Return our 3 Percent

Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) introduced on March 29 SR 37, a resolution demanding Gov. Rick Snyder return the money taken illegally from school employees’ paychecks from 2010-12, the subject of a seven-year court battle led by AFT Michigan and the Michigan Education Association.

Three separate courts have found the law in violation of the state constitution, as it forced the deduction of 3 percent of school employees’ wages, with no guarantee that the it be used to fund future health care in retirement.

Knezek has also set up an online petition, to ask Governor Snyder to drop this appeal, and return the more than $550 million taken from hard working school employees. Click here to sign the petition.

 

Budget Process Underway for FY 17-18  

On February 8th, the Governor presented his recommended budget for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year (FY). Subcommittee hearings have begun in earnest in the House and Senate.  The Governor suggested nearly $50 million for continued increased services in Flint, with half held in reserve.  His FY 17-18 budget recommendation also includes $500 million in one-time money, with about half of that slated for deposit into the Budget Stabilization Fund (commonly referred to as the “Rainy-Day Fund”), bringing its balance up to $1 billion.  The Governor is also recommending $325 million in increased funding if the School Aid budget (a portion of which will go toward increased MPSERS payments).

PreK-12: Included in the budget for K-12 schools is an additional $50-100 per pupil, with schools currently funded at the lowest levels getting the largest increases. The House School Aid Subcommittee recommends an across-the-board per-pupil increase of $100. The Senate School Aid Subcommittee recommends a per-pupil increase ranging from $88 to $176 per pupil, with districts at the lowest foundation allowances getting the greatest increases. The governor also proposed an additional $50 per pupil for high school students but both the House and Senate removed the additional per pupil payment for high school students. Snyder also proposed an additional $150 million for “at-risk” funding, and $33 million to pay for early literacy coaches. The House increased at-risk funding by only $100 million, and the Senate proposed an increase of $140 million. Many other differences exist between the budgets, and we’re continuing to analyze their implications. A comparison document of all aspects of the budget can be found here.

 

Community Colleges: The Governor’s plan for community colleges is a slight increase of .6 percent, for total funding of $398 million. The House included a slight decrease in Community College funding of .2 percent. The Senate included a 1 percent increase in total Community College funding. The budget proposal recommended by the House can be found here. The Senate committee’s recommendation can be found here.

 

Universities: University funding would increase 2.5 percent under the Governor’s proposal, for total operations revenue of $1.5 billion. In order to receive a funding increase, individual institutions would be required to keep any tuition increases at or below 3.8 percent. The Senate would only increase University operations funding by 2 percent. The House recommended a 2.3 percent increase. Details on the House recommendation can be found here.  A summary of the Senate proposal is found here.

 

Michigan House Panel Considering Common Core Repeal: 

HB 4192, introduced Thursday, February 9, and sponsored by Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Larkin Twp), would prohibit the state from continuing to use the Common Core State Standards, or any standards developed in conjunction with other states and require the state to implement the standards used by the commonwealth of Massachusetts during the 2008-2009 school year. It also prohibits the use of any assessment based on the Common Core State Standards and requires the state to create and implement a new student assessment, and requires the Legislature approve the chosen assessment.

The Common Core State Standards were developed by a consortium of states, represented by governors and state superintendents with considerable input from teachers and education professionals.

The bill has had several hearings in the Michigan Competitiveness Committee, but at this time, it appears there are not enough votes to send the bill to the floor.

AFT Michigan is opposed to the bill. Student learning would be diminished if standards and assessments continue to change frequently. Students and educators need stability and resources to support to promote high quality teaching and learning. We encourage members to contact their legislators to indicate their opposition to the bill and explain what resources and supports they need to improve their students’ learning.

Bill to Make School Calendar and Schedule a Prohibited Subject of Bargaining Awaits Action in House

House Bill 4163, introduced by Rep. Daniela Garcia (R-Holland), which would ban collective bargaining over school calendar and schedule, was approved by the Michigan House Education Reform Committee on March 22. The bill represents not only an attack on collective bargaining, but also an attack on local control in educational decision making.

Educators are the experts on the front lines, and understand their students’ needs in terms of calendar and schedule better than anyone.  Prohibiting negotiations over school schedule and calendar is yet another example of the state overstepping its role and usurping local authority.

As schools move forward with innovative programs and individualized learning plans, administrators and educators need to jointly plan, prepare and solve problems together to achieve best practices and create effective learning environments for our students.  The collective bargaining process ensures a stable, productive mechanism for that work.

If enacted, HB 4163 would allow for significant detrimental changes, such as:

  • Daily start and end times for school employees could be changed without input.

  • Teachers could lose preparation time used to plan lessons, grade assignments, collaborate with their colleagues and communicate with parents.

  • Special schedules, such as exam scheduling, could be altered without consulting front line educators who know what will – and won’t – work best for their students.

 

Bill to Require Union Recertification Elections Every Two Years Introduced in Michigan House

Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland), introduced HB 4399 on Wednesday, March 22 which would require the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to hold certification elections for all public sector unions every two years. If less than 50 percent of all employees in a bargaining unit did not vote to maintain a union, the union certification would be terminated. The existing contract and union would remain in place for the length of the contract currently in effect.

AFT Michigan Supports Bill to Repeal Tampon Tax, Bills Move to Senate Floor

Senators Rebekah Warren and David Knezek introduced Senate Bills 91 and 92, which will repeal the sales tax and use tax collected on feminine hygiene products, while holding the School Aid Fund harmless from any cuts in revenue. At the last convention, AFT Michigan passed a resolution in support of repealing taxes on feminine hygiene products, and worked with legislators to support passing legislation to this effect. The Senate Finance Committee reported the bill favorably, and it now awaits a vote in the Michigan Senate.

Michigan House Approves Bills to Alter Requirements of Michigan Merit Curriculum

The House Committee on Workforce and Talent Development took testimony on HB 4315-4318, which would modify some Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements. HB 4315 and 4316 would modify the current requirement for a student to take one credit in applied, visual, or performing arts and two credits in foreign language to instead require 3 credits of “21st century skills,” a combination of foreign language, arts, computer science or coding, or a MDE-approved career and technical education program. HB 4317 would allow students to satisfy the health education requirement by completing 30 hours in Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration training. HB 4318 would allow students to take statistics instead of Algebra II. All bills passed the Michigan House, and are awaiting committee assignment in the Michigan Senate.