Snyder’s education budget good, not great, educators say

Capital News Service
LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed $128 million increase for K-12 schools has been praised by state Superintendent Brian Whiston, but some local school districts still see room for improvement. Whiston “applauds” Snyder’s proposed budget, according to a news release from the  Department of Education. Snyder’s budget will continue to allocate extra money to the lowest-funded school districts to reduce the equity gap between those districts and wealthier ones. Snyder’s budget calls for the lowest funded districts to receive a $100 per pupil increase and the highest funded districts to receive a $50 per pupil increase — with an additional $50 for all high school students. Whiston said the additional money will be a relief to districts that have struggled with cuts for years.

Women’s advocates fear loss of federal anti-violence grants

Capital News Service
LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal calls for spending more than $4 million in federal grants to fight gender violence, but some local nonprofits are worried the money will evaporate under the Trump administration. The Trump transition team is relying on the Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance” as a foundation for reducing federal spending. It includes cutting grants combating violence against women. “What we are hearing now from state organizations is we need to be more prepared to fight,” said Whitney Buffa, the program director for Women’s Information Service, Inc. (WISE) in Big Rapids. The organization offers a 24-hour emergency shelter and crisis hotline, as well as education and prevention classes for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their families.

Focal Point Spring 2014 [Show 2]

A new bill proposed may give unpaid interns in Michigan the same protections as other paid employees. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon gave her annual State of the University address, giving some students reason to speak out against the administration. And, a suspect has been arrested in connection to the death of MSU student Dominique Nolff. Focal Point is an Emmy awarding winning, student produced newscast from the School of Journalism at Michigan State University.

Focal Point Spring 2014 [Show 1]

President Barack Obama traveled to Michigan State University to sign the Agriculture Act of 2014. A shooting just of of MSU’s campus has some worried for their safety. And, many people are getting last minute flu shots due to the recent outbreak going around Mid-Michigan. Focal Point is an Emmy awarding winning, student produced newscast from the School of Journalism at Michigan State University.

Right-to-Work Bills Spark Controversy

Some have described it as a ‘game changer’ while others have declared it a travesty for Michigan workers. Either way, in a matter days, a GOP majority quickly moved right-to-work legislation through a lame duck session in both the House and Senate. “In the space of 72 hours it went from ‘not on my agenda’ to ‘it’s going be a law in a couple of weeks,’ and that’s a pretty dramatic transition,” said Rick Pluta of Michigan Radio who has been following Lansing politics for more than two decades. It’s a move that marks the end of decades long “closed shop” laws in the state, meaning workers would now no longer be required to join union or pay union dues. For most of his term Gov. Rick Snyder has made it a point to steer clear of such divisive issues.

Environmental aspects of proposed bridge draw little attention

Capital News Service
LANSING – The long battle over building a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor has been almost free of environmental debate. Instead, opponents and supporters of the proposed project are concentrating on social and economic issues of the project. The Snyder administration says Michigan and Canada have adequately studied the environmental impacts of building the controversial bridge. Gov. Rick Snyder’s deputy press secretary, Ken Silfven, said there are acceptable standards being met and that “state and federal environment requirements are not optional.”
Tim Fischer of the Michigan Environmental Council said the organization is not focusing on the proposed Detroit River International Crossing because the organization has other priorities. Among several environmental concerns, air quality is the most common factor identified. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects the rise in vehicles traveling between Detroit and Windsor to have a direct effect on air quality because of emissions of idling diesel trucks and bridge and highway traffic.

State cracks down on high-tech tax cheats

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan is cracking down on tax cheats in cash-based businesses that use high-tech software to evade taxes as part of its effort to fight fraud and increase state revenue. Zapper, an automated sales suppression device, and software known as “phantom-ware” enable businesses, especially those that mostly deal in cash, to underreport taxable sales by plugging a flash drive into their cash registers. Zappers have been found in Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Australia and France. Detroit has the earliest records of high technical tax cheating prosecution in the U.S, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis. A new law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder prohibits phantom-ware and zappers and provides an opportunity for Michigan to collect more tax revenue, according to the Treasury Department.