In This Issue / March 21, 2011
- House Dems: Snyder’s ‘shared sacrifice’ balances the budget on the backs of kids
- Governor to local governments: ‘Reform’ or lose money
- Another busy week in Lansing — an overview of key events
- Watch for important letter from MEA
House Dems: Snyder’s ‘shared sacrifice’ balances the budget on the backs of kids
State House Democrats today rallied in opposition to the deep education cuts proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder and called for the "shared sacrifice’ the new administration promised. The lawmakers launched a new website — www.fightschoolcuts.com — that shows how the proposed cuts will devastate schools across Michigan.
"We can’t keep cutting our children’s education," said House Minority Leader Rep. Richard E. Hammel, D-Mt. Morris Township. "The stakes are just too high."
The website includes an interactive map so visitors can see how much money their local schools would lose under Snyder’s plan. They are also encouraged to sign a petition in opposition to the cuts.
Governor to local governments: ‘Reform’ or lose money
Gov. Rick Snyder today announced his plan to force local governments to adopt sweeping "reforms," including service consolidation, cuts to public employee retirement and health care benefits, limits on collective bargaining and other changes.
For municipalities that don’t embrace these changes, the price will be steep: They’ll lose state aid that helps pay for public safety and other critical programs.
Snyder delivered a special message on community development and local government reforms in Grand Rapids. Read Snyder’s message.
Despite saying that "the goal here isn’t to punish people," Snyder’s proposal would hurt thousands of hard-working Michiganders and further erode local control from elected officials. Notably, Snyder’s plan would require local municipalities to force employees to pay at least 20 percent of their health insurance premiums, apparently even if local officials do not want to, or lose funding.
Snyder plans a special address about public education in April.
Another busy week in Lansing — an overview of key events
Lawmakers plan another busy week in Lansing, where multiple bills are moving that would affect you.
The Senate will consider House Bill 4152, a bill to freeze wages and benefits when a collective bargaining agreement expires until a new contract takes effect. This would effectively eliminate step raises between contracts and require employees to pay any increased costs of maintaining health insurance and other benefits.
The legislation would also prohibit any retroactive increase in wages or benefits after a new contract is signed. MEA opposes this bill. Please contact your state senator immediately to ask him/her to vote NO on House Bill 4152.
Also, this week, the state House is expected to vote on House Bill 4059, which would prohibit public employers from paying union officials for time conducting union business. A few school districts have negotiated paid release time for union representatives — and MEA believes this issue should be decided at the local level based on local needs. Such joint decisions undoubtedly save time and money by resolving problems sooner. Please contact your representative to urge a NO vote on House Bill 4059.
Other scheduled business includes:
- The House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee will meet at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Room 426 of the Capitol. The panel will take testimony on the proposed school aid budget and also take testimony on a proposal to give half of a per pupil foundation grant to schools that offer just half-day kindergarten.
- The House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee meets at noon Tuesday in Room 326 of the Capitol to consider House Bill 4052, a bill that would prohibit the use of taxpayer-funded equipment, supplies, and facilities for union or political activities. MEA opposes the bill.
- The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to consider Senate Bill 7. The meeting is in Rooms 402-403 of the Capitol. Senate Bill 7 would require all public employees to pay at least 20 percent of the cost of their health insurance. MEA opposes this bill; the issue should be decided locally. In many instances, public employees have previously sacrificed wages or other benefits to maintain health insurance.
- The Senate Appropriations K-12 School Aid and Education Subcommittee meets at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the Senate Appropriations Room at the Capitol to receive public testimony on the proposed school aid budget. Snyder has proposed deep budget cuts for schools.
- The House Education Committee meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Room 519 of the House Office Building to consider House Bill 4306. This legislation would require schools to outsource support services.
Watch for important letter from MEA
Your MEA Board of Directors is calling on local associations across the state to conduct local votes to provide MEA the authority to initiate crisis activities — up to and including a job action — in response to the ongoing legislative crisis in Lansing.
Watch your mailbox for this important letter and additional information about these local crisis votes.