Lawmakers pose at a bill signing on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.

LANSING, Mich., Feb. 5, 2024 — For the first time in 40 years, Democrats gained control of the legislature and the governor’s office last year. With majority, they led a remarkably productive year, passing and signing into law a historic number of bills. A significant number of those laws go into effect on Feb. 13. In order to celebrate with and inform Michiganders, House Dems are rolling out the Countdown to a Better Michigan project — each day leading up to Feb. 13, Democrats will talk about a different set of legislation soon becoming law. Included are laws to support students and schools — we know that a top-notch education system is important to Michiganders, so we’ve made it a top priority.

A number of laws supporting teachers and school employees will go into effect on Feb. 13. One bill package restores the rights of teachers and school employees so they can bargain for good working conditions and better support for their students. Other bills repeal the requirement that wages and benefit levels be frozen during contract negotiations and allow public school employers to deduct union dues from employee wages. Lastly, to encourage teachers to remain in the teaching profession, legislation taking effect will give teachers a better, more secure retirement plan.

“As a teacher-turned-legislator, I understand just how important it is to support our kids. My Democratic colleagues and I took steps to support our students, teachers and schools,” said state Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth), chair of the House Education Committee. “Teachers who are supported with good working conditions and adequate resources at school will perform at their best, helping our students succeed. Investments in education are investments in our state’s future.”

The School Aid budget for fiscal 2023-24, which was passed and went into effect last year, was the largest investment in education in the state’s history, including free breakfast and lunch for every public school student and more affordable pre-K.

“Ensuring kids have access to school meals is paramount; families shouldn’t bear financial burdens for their children to enjoy these meals,” said state Rep. Jaime Churches (D-Wyandotte), vice chair of the Education Committee. “Our budget prioritizes kids and families by erasing school lunch debt and ensuring every public school student in Michigan receives free meals.”

In addition to the budget, two supplemental spending bills will go into effect on Feb. 13. One of the bills will forgive the debt of five school districts in predominantly communities of color, including Pontiac School District.

“The relief of debilitating school debt in the last budget cycle for Pontiac Schools and four other school districts from communities of color around the state will help to right-size the needed resources to bolster the educational systems that support students from vulnerable or underperforming school districts. Every child, everywhere across the state deserves a world-class education with dedicated and qualified teachers in modern facilities that prepare them for a bright future. We will continue to put Michigan’s young people and their education first,” said state Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac).

House Dems worked hard to provide some of the best educational opportunities for our kids and to support our teachers, schools and parents in 2023. As we move into 2024, House Dems will continue to build on that strong foundation.

“This past year has offered a look at what is possible in education: a brighter future filled with hope,” said MEA President Chandra Madafferi, a teacher from Oakland County. “There are many significant challenges still facing our schools, but despite that, schools and educators continue to build, innovate and expand opportunities for our students. We are committed to building on the past year’s successes as we look forward to 2024.”

The Countdown to a Better Michigan project marks the implementation of numerous laws going into effect on Feb. 13. With a strong focus on education, these laws underscore a commitment to Michiganders’ well-being. For detailed information on these transformative policies, please go to Countdown to a Better Michigan. Together, let’s celebrate a stronger, educated, more resilient Michigan.