Capital News Service Budget – Week 12
Dec. 4, 2015
To: CNS Editors
From: Eric Freedman, Sheila Schimpf and Andi Brancato
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IN-DEPTH WEEK AHEAD: Next Friday, Dec. 11, is our last in-depth week and last regular file of the semester. The following Friday, Dec. 18, will be our traditional end-of-semester Bonus Week with still-timely stories you may not have had space for.
Here’s your file:
VOCTECHOPPORTUNITIES: The must-go-to-college pendulum may have swung too far but is now swinging back towards valuing vocational and technical training for skilled trades, some experts say. We hear from the Lenawee and Traverse Bay intermediate school districts, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators. By Stephanie Hernandez McGavin. FOR BLISSFIELD, TRAVERSE CITY, MANISTEE, PETOSKEY, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.
VETERANSCARE: Access to medical care is a national concern for veterans but the situation for Michigan’s 660,000 vets is better than elsewhere in the country. VA facilities in the state have taken steps to improve access and reduce delays in seeing physicians. We hear from the John Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, VA Ann Arbor HealthCare System and state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. By Zhao Peng. FOR ALL POINTS.
RETIREES: The House and Senate are near agreement on a proposal that would make it easier for retired teachers to return to work in “critical shortage” disciplines or as substitutes without reducing their pensions and health benefits. The MEA says the measure will benefit school districts that have trouble filling such positions. The Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel also favors it. Sponsors include lawmakers from Montague, Newaygo, Byron Center, Park Township, Six Lakes and Vulcan. By Yuehan Liu. FOR HOLLAND, GREENVILLE, MANISTEE, BIG RAPIDS, SAULT STE. MARIE, ST. IGNACE, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.
BUSFLEETS: The number of school districts contracting out their bus fleets has increased 150 percent in the past few years as a cost-savings measure, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy reports. Most turn to private companies but some contract out to nearby school districts. We talk to officials at the Addison and Dollar-Bay-Tamarack City districts, both of which have privatized, and from the Lake Linden-Hubbell district, which hasn’t. We also hear from Michigan School Business Officials & the MEA. By Michael Kransz. FOR BLISSFIELD, MARQUETTE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.
CHILDCARECENTER: The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has reinstated the license of a Manistee child care center that had been suspended for alleged violations that include insufficient staff training and missing records. The center operator called the state action unfair. By Yuehan Liu. FOR MANISTEE, LUDINGTON & ALL POINTS.
SUBSTITUTETEACHERS: Many districts across the state face a shortage of substitute teachers. Experts disagree on the scope of the problem, and whether it’s a matter of quality or quantity. A Northern Michigan University expert notes that substitutes don’t need a bachelor’s degree or any coursework in education or child development. Pending legislation would make it easier for retired teachers to return without jeopardizing pensions or health benefits. The Education Department, a Newaygo representative who co-sponsored the bill, school officials from Ottawa ISD and Manistee schools and the MEA also opine. By Amelia Havanec. FOR MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, ST. IGNACE, LAKE COUNTY, LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, HOLLAND & ALL POINTS.
PAROLEEMPLOYMENT: It’s tough for many parolees to find jobs after release, experts say, but the prison system is working to better prepare them for employment. We hear from the Corrections Department, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan and Networks Northwest in Traverse City. By Zhao Peng. FOR LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, HOLLAND, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU, BIG RAPIDS, CADILLAC, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS & ALL POINTS.
UNIONBILL: A Republican-led proposal to bar school districts from paying employees for time they spend as union representatives faces opposition from the Michigan Association of School Boards and MEA, which argue that it would hamper collective bargaining and intrude into traditional local decision-making. But the Mackinac Center for Public Policy says it’s much-needed and would save local districts millions of dollars a year in personnel costs. Sponsors included senators from Lawton, St. Joseph, Lowell, Sheridan, Evart and Hart. By Brooke Kansier. FOR CADILLAC, MANISTEE, HOLLAND, BIG RAPIDS, LUDINGTON, THREE RIVERS, STURGIS, GLADWIN, LANSING CITY PULSE, LEELANAU, TRAVERSE CITY, CRAWFORD COUNTY, HERALD-STAR, LAKE COUNTY, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, GREENVILLE, LEELANAU & ALL POINTS.
LOSTTOWNS: Some are ghosts. Some are shadows. Some disappeared without a trace. They’re once-vibrant communities that are vibrant no longer, if they still exist as more than scattered cellar holes and crumbling walls. A new book, “Lost Towns of Eastern Michigan,” describes the dismal fate of such communities as Alcona and Mikado in Alcona County, Pere Cheney in Crawford County, Podunk in Gladwin County, McKinley in Oscoda County, Berryville in Otsego County. Some are associated with notoriety, such as a murderous minister in St. Clair County’s Rattle Run, the Oklahoma City bombers’ hang-out in Sanilac County’s Decker and the most sinful city in Michigan, Meredith on the border between Gladwin and Clare counties. Ogemaw County’s Lupton was where the Prohibition-era Purple Gang hid out. By Eric Freedman. FOR CRAWFORD COUNTY, GLADWIN, ALCONA, MONTMORENCY & ALL POINTS.
w/LOSTOWNSCOVER: Lost Towns of Eastern Michigan. Credit: History Press.
SOLAR: Assuming all goes as planned, Michigan may soon see a DTE solar project nearly 50 times larger than its largest existing installation. Traverse City Light & Power, Cherryland Electric Co-op, Marquette Light & Power and the municipal utility in Portland are among utilities working on solar energy projects. The Lansing Board of Water & Light is discussing projects, as are a group in Holland and Consumers Energy. We hear from the Michigan Environmental Council, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association and DTE Energy. By Colleen Otte. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, HOLLAND, LANSING CITY PULSE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS & ALL POINTS.
w/SOLARPHOTO: DTE Energy’s 1.1-megawatt solar array at Domino’s Farms near Ann Arbor. Credit: Mark Houston.
LAKELEVELS: New Great Lakes water level predictions have Superior, Michigan and Huron on the same page, but lakes Erie and Ontario flow to the beat of a different drum. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predict that the bigger lakes will drop below the level they were a year ago. Erie and Ontario are set to be higher than a year ago. By Marie Orttenburger. FOR HOLLAND, LUDINGTON, ALCONA, CHEBOYGAN, LEELANAU, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRIGNS, TRAVERSE CITY, MANISTEE, SAULT STE. MARIE, MARQUETTE, ST. IGNACE & ALL POINTS.