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Gov. Signs Budget, Highlights Boilerplate Concerns

Aaron Keel

By Aaron Keel, MASB Assistant Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, July 19, 2017

On Friday, Gov. Rick Snyder signed the School Aid budget, House Bill 4313, into law at the Kent Intermediate School District Career Tech Center. In doing so, Gov. Snyder used his line-item veto authority to strike a total of almost $1.4 million in funding from the $16.6 billion budget.

The four items vetoed from the budget include $60,000 for civics education in 2017, $60,000 for civics education in 2018, $1 million for an online math program and $250,000 for "assessment of digital literacy and the preparation of digital literacy skills." In his veto letter, Gov. Snyder indicated, "While some items may serve valid public policy goals, the items vetoed represent programs that are largely duplicative of or interfere with current state programs, or which have an unclear purpose."

Gov. Snyder also specifically highlighted Section 164h in his veto letter as “among the various provisions that are considered unenforceable,” as he looks to provide direction to departments when implementing new boilerplate and appropriations.

SEC. 164H. (1) BEGINNING OCTOBER 1, 2017, A DISTRICT OR INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT SHALL NOT ENTER INTO A COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT THAT DOES ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

(A) ESTABLISHES RACIAL OR RELIGIOUS PREFERENCES FOR EMPLOYEES.

(B) AUTOMATICALLY DEDUCTS UNION DUES FROM EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION.

(C) IS IN CONFLICT WITH ANY STATE OR FEDERAL LAW REGARDING DISTRICT OR INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT TRANSPARENCY.

(D) INCLUDES A METHOD OF COMPENSATION THAT DOES NOT COMPLY WITH SECTION 1250 OF THE REVISED SCHOOL CODE, MCL 380.1250.

(2) A DISTRICT OR INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT THAT ENTERS INTO A COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT IN VIOLATION OF SUBSECTION (1) SHALL FORFEIT AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 5% OF THE FUNDS DUE TO THE DISTRICT OR INTERMEDIATE DISTRICT UNDER THIS ARTICLE.

We at MASB had been concerned about item (D) in this section because it appeared to directly contradict the Legislature’s mandate in Public Employment Relations Act that merit pay not be bargained over or included in collective bargaining agreements.   

While it is possible that an Attorney General’s Opinion could reverse it, the Governor’s statement indicates that districts should proceed with previous guidance, keeping merit pay as a matter prescribed by board policy rather than something that should be bargained into CBAs. 

The other section we have lingering concerns about, including enforceability, is Section 164g:

Sec. 164g: A district or intermediate district shall not use funds appropriated under this article to pay an expense incurred relating to any legal action initiated by the district or intermediate district against this state. If a district or intermediate district violates this section in a fiscal year, the district or intermediate district forfeits from its funds due under this article for that fiscal year an amount equal to the expenses paid in violation of this section.

While there are other avenues a district could potentially pursue, we do not believe this language would withstand a legal challenge. We will continue to work with our Legal Department to further analyze this section and will let you know of any future developments.

For more information on some of the major budget items, please check our comparison document or a more detailed analysis from the House Fiscal Agency, which reflects the conference agreement but does not take into account the vetoes mentioned in this article. 

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