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Today's action message

Dear Friends,

As I'm sure you know, time is running out for a budget deal in Lansing. The new fiscal year starts tonight at midnight, and the Governor has already made plans for a government shutdown.

So the pressure is on, as it should be. But sometimes, during protracted late-night negotiations where everyone is playing "let's make a deal," people can lose sight of what's really important. Let's remind them!


According to the latest press reports, lawmakers are coming close to a deal that would increase the income tax and extend the sales tax to some services. It's not clear if any of that would be earmarked for education, but new revenue would allow the legislature to close the school aid deficit by increasing the transfer from the state's general fund.

Part of the deal, reports say, is a measure to encourage the creation of health care pools for public employees, including teachers. The most contentious part of that measure would require existing health plan carriers, notably the MEA affiliate MESSA, to release claims data for groups as small as 100. While this may give districts the information they need to get better health insurance rates, the small size of the groups involved would seem to run counter to the whole idea of getting better rates by creating large pools of applicants.

It's strange that this measure, which may or may not save money and can only be acted upon by individual districts as they negotiate for health care, has become the key to the deal. Other measures more under State control, such as changes in the state pension system for school employees, appear to have fallen by the wayside.

We need to find ways to control costs in public education, but let's remind our lawmakers that whatever we do should be in the best interests of our schools and fair to our educators, and not driven by some other political agenda. And while we're at it, let's remind them that the people of Michigan want a commitment to protect school funding as part of this deal.


Let's let our representatives know how we feel, and let's do it today!

With thanks,

Steven Norton
Executive Director
Michigan Parents for Schools

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