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Legislative and other action alerts to MIPFS supporters

Action alert: MI Senate voting on concealed guns in schools, daycares, churches

Dear Friends,

I'm sorry to come back to you again so soon, but the folks in Lansing are trying to pull a fast one on us.

Yesterday afternoon, a Senate committee approved three bills which will basically wipe out the idea of gun-free zones in our state. In addition, they are taking steps to explicitly block school districts, libraries, and others from setting their own rules on who can carry a firearm into their buildings.

Now, those bills are expected to come up for a vote in the full Senate this morning (Wednesday). They are trying to move so fast that people who oppose these bills cannot get organized in time. Let's prove them wrong!

We need to start telling OUR story


Dear Friends,

mittenLet me tell you a little story about the Mitten & Rabbit. Some twenty years ago, the people of the Mitten (and their northern cousins in the Rabbit) were convinced to try an experiment: to see if they could make their public schools better by introducing competition. At the same time, they also wanted to make sure schools were funded adequately and more fairly than in the past. So the leaders of the Mitten passed laws and made changes to get the experiment started, and they expected that future leaders would closely follow the experiment to see how it was working, and make corrections as needed.

Times changed, the economy worsened, and newer, less experienced, leaders of the Mitten were more concerned about making things cost less than about making them work well. Competition, it turned out, was rigged and didn't help schools improve so much as it allowed some new players to make a profit while existing schools struggled. Funding that was generous in the beginning failed to keep up with rising costs, but leaders were afraid to ask the people to pay more for their community's schools - or to let them do it themselves. And after twenty years, no one had had the courage to see if the experiment was really living up to its promises. The children of the Mitten were the ones who lost the most from this downhill slide, but then they don't vote (or make campaign contributions).

Sound familiar? That's where we find ourselves today. The experiment with competition has not made schools better or stronger; it has taken the public voice out of many supposedly "public" schools and lined the pockets of a few investors. Many people have been conned into believing that you can make schools better by starving them of resources. And as any magician knows, the key to a good trick is to get people to focus their attention somewhere else. (Cont'd...)

Action alert: still time to act on school retirement bills

Dear Friends,

As we said in our last Legislative Update, they've been playing "let's make a deal" in Lansing, and we weren't invited. Now they intend to wave their deal in front of our collective noses for a few moments as they rush to pass it into law. We need you to speak out as soon as possible!

Action alert: The Great Pension Diversion

It's budget season in Lansing, and there are some important issues that need to be settled about school funding. But, as any good magician knows, the key to a good trick is to keep your audience's attention focused someplace else.

For that flashy bit of distraction, we have the wrong-headed effort to end the school pension system at a cost of more than a billion dollars a year for the next four decades. Right now, legislative leaders are not only insisting on closing the state public school retirement system (MPSERS) to new hires, but have cut off budget negotiations with Gov. Snyder because of his continued opposition to the retirement changes.

Action alert: Ditching the income tax is irresponsible!

[Update: HB 4001 was defeated on 23 Feb in a House floor vote, 52-55. In an unusual move, the House leadership went forward with a roll call vote despite not having enough votes to pass the bill. Twelve Republicans joined all but one Democrats in voting no. More coverage soon.]
Dear Friends,
 
House Bill 4001 would eliminate the state income tax. It could be voted upon this week in the House.
 
 
What was once a fringe idea actually could pass this week. Even though proposed to be cut over 40 years, we would all feel the impact immediately. The biggest cuts come right away, slashing $1.8 billion in the first two years.
Departments: 

Legislative update: State control worked so well, let's do it again!

Dear Friends,
 

Advocacy update: briefing on the 3rd grade reading bill

Dear Friends,

I know you've been hearing a lot from me about this "third grade reading" bill that's in the Michigan House of Representatives. Sometimes events don't give you the time to explain as much as you'd like about what is at stake. So, I wanted to take a moment to brief you on what we're doing.

When we work in Lansing, we try to focus on getting good policy passed - and we are willing to work with anyone who is ready to do right by our kids. This bill is an example: it's got good parts, and bad parts. We've been working to make the good parts better and get the bad parts out.

Action alert: so many bad bills, so little time

TAKE ACTION!

So many bad bills, so little time

Let's play "Legislative Whack-A-Mole™"!

We're in the legislative "lame duck" session, so that means it must be time to push a lot of bad ideas into law while Michigan voters are getting ready for the holidays. And we have a great assortment of bad ideas this year: >>> Read More >>>

Departments: 

Our story, Part II: Michigan's new "DEW" line

Rather than early warning of a nuclear strike, a package of bills now before the Michigan Senate aim to give early warning of a school district in financial distress - a "deficit early warning" system, if you will. But if our lawmakers truly want an early warning, they should simply ask the parents, teachers and staff of our schools what they have been forced to do by Michigan's persistent failure to invest in public education.

These bills escalate the penalties for districts in financial difficulty - and layer on reporting requirements that seem primarily aimed at placing blame on the locals - while completely failing to acknowledge that districts might be in distress because of the actions of the Legislature. The bill package continues the neat shift of blame: the Legislature and Governor make the decisions about school funding, but the responsibility for cutting programs and opportunities available to our children is left for local school boards to shoulder.

At base, there are two competing stories about what is happening to our schools, and one of them is driving these bills forward.

It's Count Day: know where your school funding is going?

Just a few days ago, a group of Democratic state lawmakers announced that they would introduce legislation to put a hold on the creation of new charter schools until the state developed a better system to oversee their finances. The draft bill, of course, was a reaction to the stunning investigative work by the Detroit Free Press in their June expose on the questionable financial dealings of private, for-profit charter schools in Michigan. (If you haven't read it, you really should.)

Now, as the minority party in both houses of the legislature, there is essentially zero chance that this Democratic bill would be passed as-is. It's an election year, when you tend to see a lot of this kind of thing. But they were also trying to make a point. Part of that point is to say that the people of Michigan want to make sure that public funds which are intended to educate our children are not siphoned off to line some private contractor's pockets.

Departments: 

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