The MASB Board of Directors approved the 2011-12 Legislative Priorities as recommended by the MASB Government Relations Committee. These priorities will guide the work of the Government Relations staff. If you have any questions about the priorities, please contact Don Wotruba, 517.327.5913.
Short Term Priorities
- Support more cost effective retirement benefits for school employees—With 85–90 percent of a school district's costs attributable to personnel, and no way to raise money locally, we must find ways to operate in the most cost effective way while maintaining an environment that is attractive for recent college graduates.
- Sinking Fund—Sinking funds can be a much less costly alternative to bonding when purchasing buses and technology. Under current law, using sinking funds for these purposes is illegal.
- 18 mil non-homestead tax—The state requires and expects every district to levy 18 mils on all non-homestead property as part of their per pupil foundation grant. Districts regularly bring the question of renewal of the 18 mils to voters, sometimes annually, at a cost to the district and voters, even though they almost always pass. The 18 mils should become part of a statewide levy thus saving taxpayer dollars and generating more up front revenue for the state school aid fund.
- Unfunded mandate—The legislature created a statutory committee on unfunded mandates which made recommendations in 2010. The new legislature should take action to adopt these recommendations to prevent future lawsuits against the state and to create an environment of trust between local units of government and the state legislature.
- Support incentives for consolidation of services, programming or districts—MASB fully understands that certain economies of scale exist with the consolidation of specific school district functions, of the districts themselves or of programming. However, to help districts overcome political, legal and personnel issues that are associated with any type of consolidation it's our belief that the state should offer some level of incentive rather than purely punitive measures.
- Define School Aid for preK-12—The voters in 1993 voted for a new school finance system in Michigan with the expectation that their local public schools would have a guaranteed funding stream with the increase in the sales tax. The legislature needs to keep that promise by putting a constitutional question before the voters guaranteeing that school aid fund money only be used for pre-school through grade 12.
Long Term Priorities
- Structural funding fix—No one in Lansing would disagree with the fact that our school funding system is broken. The legislature needs to take an in-depth look at this issue and find a permanent solution that allows for greater stability in school funding.
- Support the expansion or repeal of term limits—Term limits have had a detrimental impact on how our government functions and they must be reviewed and changed to allow a more stable and forward thinking legislative body.
- Support greater focus and funding for early childhood education—Reaching children at a younger age increases their achievement levels and reduces future remedial costs for school districts.
- Support a continual closing of the per pupil funding gap for schools in Michigan—Our state must continue one of the major tenets of Proposal A and continue to close the funding gap between school districts in Michigan. Equal opportunities must exist for all children in Michigan, not just a few.
- Support state and federal assistance for school infrastructure—Michigan has a multi-billion dollar school construction need with a state school bond system that is near the bottom in the country in actual monetary assistance to school districts. Coupled with property values that vary so much across the state we have an infrastructure system that will not meet the needs of future students in this state.