Cheyna Roth

Governor Rick Snyder can expect a controversial bill on his desk soon. Lawmakers passed legislation to send more money to charter schools today.

If the governor signs the bill, charter schools would qualify for new or renewed countywide tax millage dollars. Historically, that money has only gone to traditional public schools.

Jennifer Smith is with the Michigan Association of School Boards. That organization is against the bills. Smith says traditional public schools have costs charter schools don’t have.

  

Governor Rick Snyder gives his final State of the State address tomorrow. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have lists of issues they want the governor to talk about.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard wants Snyder to address mental health reform.

But Leonard says it’s also important for the governor to stress the accomplishments of the Republican Party.

“I think he needs to remind the citizens of the state of Michigan how far we have come along over the past seven years as well.”

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Lawmakers in Lansing want to help charter schools get extra money.

The legislation lets charter schools qualify for new or renewed countywide tax millage dollars. Opponents say this is essentially a way to line the pockets of for-profit charter school operators.

But Republican Representative Tim Kelly voted in favor of the bill. He says the opposition is really to charter schools in general – and he’s sick of the argument.

The state Legislature made law today – without the governor’s approval. The House and Senate passed a veto override. It was the first override of Governor Snyder’s tenure.

This is was the first override since 2002. The bills phase-out the sales tax on the value of a trade-in when buying a new vehicle.

   The Legislature and governor have butted heads recently over other tax cuts. And the governor vetoed the bill because of budget concerns.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard says he’s not worried about the budget.  

 

   Lawmakers in Lansing heard complaints against utility company DTE Energy today. A  state House committee meeting was focused largely on smart meters.

   Several customers say DTE Energy shut off their power after they refused to switch to a new smart meter. DTE says people can opt out, but there is a service charge.

Representative Gary Glenn wants to prevent utilities from charging people who opt out of a smart meter if they agree to report their meter readings to the utility.

   “Why not just let people go find some accommodation?”

The legislature is once again at odds with the governor. This time it’s over what to do about the new federal tax law.

The Legislature and the governor agree on two things. That the new federal tax law means an increase in Michigan taxes. And two – that something needs to be done to fix that. But where they disagree is on what to do.

   The governor wants to essentially find a way to make the federal tax impact neutral at first. So Michigan taxes would stay the same.

The state got an idea today of how much money it could have for the next couple years. Now there’s a conflict brewing over whether to spend or save.

Michigan is on track to add a little more to its bank account than last year. But it’s still likely not enough to keep up with inflation.

Members of the governor’s administration say a lot of the money is earmarked and they should also work to pay down the debt and save.

But lawmakers might try to make more cuts anyway.

Representative Laura Cox is on the committee that makes the state’s budget.

 

   Lawmakers at the state Capitol are gearing up for a fight over the so-called “prevailing wage.”

   Prevailing wage is a state law that requires workers to get paid union-rate wages for state construction projects.

   There’s currently a proposal in front of the Board of State Canvassers to get rid of the law. If it approves the measure, the Legislature would have the chance to make it law without the governor’s signature.

  

The state launched a new school evaluation tool today.

The new Parent Dashboard is meant to increase the transparency of Michigan’s schools.

The dashboard shows information about each school in Michigan, from elementary to high school. It includes state test results, graduation and dropout rates, and student to staff ratios.

Vanessa Keesler is a state deputy Superintendent. She says the Department of Education got a lot of input from parents to make the dashboard as user friendly as possible.

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Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says getting high speed internet to rural communities in Michigan is a priority for her.

Senator Stabenow announced she and other Senators have started to draft the new Farm Bill. It sets the agricultural and food policy for the United States. But it also helps finance rural development – from high speed internet to water and sewer.

Stabenow says in the past, the bill has been a large, bipartisan effort.

“Even with all the partisanship and division, I’m very hopeful that we can do the same thing this time.”

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