By Megan McDonnell
Entirely East Lansing
The East Lansing School Board voted March 23 to support the Michigan sales tax proposal that will be on the May 5 ballot.
Proposal 1 would increase the state’s sale tax rate by 1 percent to help fix Michigan roads and increase funding for K-12 education, according to School Board President Nell Kuhnmuench
Kuhnmuench said that the current Michigan Constitution limits the sales tax to 6 percent and dedicates 2 percent to K-12 education, due to an issue passed in the 1990s called Proposal 8, as a new way to finance public education.
“What we’re hoping here is that this proposed amendment will strike the ability to fund institutions of higher education from the School Aid Fund,” said Kuhnmuench. “However, it adds language to say that you can use some funds for community colleges.
“I think they plan on raising $1.2 billion a year once all the pieces are in place for roads and higher education.”
School Board Trustee Karen Hoene said that she’s nervous because the ballot is during a special election.
“We need our schools funded … I’m afraid people aren’t going to come out to vote,” said Hoene. “But at the same time I’m optimistic because I think that people care about our schools, and I hope that most Michiganders would take a little hit to their pocket to make sure that our schools stay funded.”
Hoene criticized the State Legislature as being irresponsible to “pass it back to the voters,” because any chance that it won’t pass “is really going to devastate us.”
She also said that her first thought when the amendment was brought to her attention was of the school district’s high school seniors.
“All of our high school seniors are going to be able to vote for the first time,” said Hoene. “And (we will) really, really encourage them to vote.”
School Board Secretary Hillary Henderson said she supported the bill not only to fix the roads, but also primarily to increase revenue for Michigan’s schools.
“We can take any help we can get,” said Henderson.