By LAURA BOHANNON
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.
By CAITLIN TAYLOR
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.
In the barrage of budget proposals, school funding bills and teacher retirement benefit reforms, Michigan residents help explain the current state of Michigan education. The Proposed Budget
Although Gov. Rick Snyder proposed a $75 per pupil increase in his budget, Okemos Public Schools director of finance Robert Clark said the fixed cost of foundation allowances does not account for natural cost increases in schools. The foundation allowance, which combines local and state funds and allocates a per pupil amount to each school district, is $8,099 per student in Okemos schools. Clark said that if the enrollment in Okemos schools did not continue to increase, as it currently is, the schools could not remain “above water.”
Clark said that dependance on foundation allowances leads to the inability to offset natural increasing costs like inflation, insurance premiums and contractual teacher pay increases. The Okemos school district was already facing budget cuts that forced it to freeze teachers’ salaries and pensions, search for less experienced—and cheaper—teachers and reduce health care quality and coverage.
It wouldn’t be Michigan if not for the potholes. Recently, potholes have been popping up all around Clinton County and are causing drivers a lot of grief. The Clinton County Road Commission has been working hard to find a quick fix to the problem and it’s called cold patching. According to quikrete.com, cold patching is an environmentally friendly product specially formulated with a high percentage of graded recycled asphalt pavement and special binding agent used to fill holes over 25.4 millimeters wide. A quick fix isn’t good enough for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who has worked hard at passing Proposal One.
BATH – As the state grapples with how to fix its crumbling roads, Bath Township has budgeted some short-term pothole relief. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced a $54-billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Feb. 11 that included $113 million in general fund spending for roads and bridges in Michigan. There is also an upcoming May ballot initiative for an additional $1.2 billion annually that would go toward the state’s worsening motor pathways. In its most recent available annual report, the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council indicated that that “at current investment levels, the condition of both roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate.” The report also showed that 33% of Michigan’s federal-aid eligible roads are in “poor” condition.
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.
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.
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.
By ANJANA SCHROEDER
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.
By SILU GUO
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.