Hello and welcome to my e-newsletter. I would like to take this moment to thank you for allowing me to serve you in the 95th House District and to act as your voice in Lansing. This issue of my e-newsletter will provide an update on what’s going on at the Capitol this month, upcoming times to meet with me and other relevant information for our community.
As your representative, I am most effective at my job when acting on your input. I encourage you to reach out to me and my staff with any questions, comments or concerns you may have about issues in the district or legislation that will impact our state. You can contact me toll-free at (855) 347-8095, by email or through my website. Thank you for your commitment to the community we both call home; I look forward to hearing from you!
House Passes Departmental Budget
Last week, the House finished passing the collection of bills comprising the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget. My colleagues and I introduced numerous amendments to ensure funding for many vital programs. Unfortunately, most were ultimately rejected along party lines, resulting in budgets that fail to adequately fund road repairs, schools or the infrastructure upgrades needed to ensure Michiganders have access to clean and safe water.
The House Republican budget plan makes numerous indiscriminate cuts to departments across the board, regardless of what programs they’re in charge of running or their actual need. After eight years of one party control, the sudden appearance of “government fat” seems to suspiciously coincide with the assumption of office by a Democratic Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General, as well as with the implementation of the recently passed proposals 2 and 3. In addition, several departments had their IT budgets cut by 25%, even as the state faces three separate lawsuits related to IT systems that were improperly funded and implemented.
The good news is that this is just one step in the process, and we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to finalize the budget. I remain hopeful that we can arrive at solutions that truly do right by those we were sent here to represent.
School Aid Budget
The collection of bills passed last week included the House version of the school aid budget. I voted NO because this budget falls short to fully fund our public schools. In fact, compared to Gov. Whitmer’s proposal, Bridgeport-Spaulding Public Schools will get $325,000 less, Carrollton Public Schools will get $304,000 less and Saginaw Public Schools will get $863,000 less under the Republican approved budget. This budget could actually put some school districts in deficit. Education experts agree that we need a weighted formula for special education, economically disadvantaged students and career technical education. This budget removes the proposed weighted foundation formula based on individual student needs.
We must address the literacy crisis facing Michigan’s students – we rank 41st in the country in reading and only half of our kids read at proficiency. This budget does not meet the recommended level of investment for early literacy coaches in the classroom. There is an increase for private school funding – your tax dollars meant for public schools. There are incentives for for-profit education by funding online cyber schools at the same level as traditional public schools – many of which contract with out of state companies. There is $185 million of unspent school aid dollars left on the books – money meant for the classroom sitting on the balance sheet. Until we start fully funding our public schools, Michigan’s future is in serious jeopardy.
It’s no secret that we need to fix our infrastructure, but we can’t fund the repair and maintenance of our roads and bridges by cutting funding for other vital programs. The proposed budget makes deep cuts to our funding for public transportation, as well as diverting $325 million in funds intended for education. We cannot continue to play this shell game, which only ends with inadequate funding across the board. Michigan families deserve better, which is why I could not support this version of the budget in good conscience.
I hope you can join me for my upcoming coffee hour! I look forward to having an informal conversation with you about the issues that families are facing in our community.
When: Friday, June 21, from 8 – 9:30 a.m.
Where: Dawn of a New Day Coffee House and Cafe, 210 S. Washington Ave. in Saginaw
Never hesitate to reach out to me or my staff if you have any questions or concerns!
95th House District