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Senator Mike Shirkey

State Budget Update

Dear Friend,

This past week in Lansing saw Michigan's state budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 finalized and approved by the legislature. As required by our State Constitution, this is a balanced budget and represents the sixth consecutive year the budget has been completed on time during the month of June. This gives local municipalities and school districts sufficient time to plan their own budgets for portions that rely on state funding.

The state also continued its trend of paying down past debt more quickly, and in particular this year’s budget reduces debt to the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System by over $1 billion. At the same time, the School Aid portion of the budget will include continued new investment in students’ education with $261 million allotted over the previous year.

The biggest educational issue the legislature faced as part of the budget dealt with the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system and their potential financial insolvency. While every school district has to manage its own resources in the best way possible within budgetary constraints, failing school systems have ramifications on all Michigan taxpayers, and it was challenging to achieve legislation that dealt with the issue while balancing the educational needs of the students, ensuring local accountability, and minimizing statewide financial impacts. It is important to note that simply allowing the DPS District to fall into bankruptcy as part of local district accountability efforts would have ultimately cost more to taxpayers throughout the state, including those of us here in the 16th District, than the legislative package that was sent to the Governor as part of the budget. This was a contentious issue that drew large state headlines, but we believe a reasonable solution was achieved.

This new DPS plan distributes necessary funds for students while creating higher standards for Detroit schools. The package provides for the closure of schools that fail persistently, with an A-F grading system established that will monitor and track performance. Individual schools in Detroit that receive a failing grade for three years will be closed outright. School choice for families in the district will be maintained so parents can benefit from a competitive environment by choosing where to send their children. Importantly, there are also now more requirements that strengthen penalties for dishonest “sickout” work stoppages that leave students in the lurch. Teacher pay will now also be more merit-based. The vast majority of teachers are truly there to educate, and will be supported, encouraging better learning opportunities for children while weeding out bad actors that drag the system down for all of us.

In this year’s passed budget, the Skilled Trades Training Fund also received an appropriation in order to continue our investment in Michigan’s future leaders and workforce. Within state government, $1.7 million was added to strengthen investigation, detection, and prevention of data breaches and cybercrimes. Combined with the accelerated debt-payoff mentioned above, this budget balances responsible spending with appropriate attention to previous obligations.

We hope you enjoy the start of your Summer, and that you take a look at the local updates below.

Serving with and for you,

Mike Shirkey

Business & Road Improvement Bringing Job Opportunities

A local road upgrade plan received the green light and funding due to creative collaboration between an expanding Hanover Township business, local government, and state government. The plan involves the reconstruction and widening of Coats Road in the Hanover-Horton area.

A local machine and tool company recently considering expanding their operations where Coats Road meets Moscow Road, but the intersection needed work in order to handle any increase in semi traffic. Truck traffic has more than tripled in the past several years due to positive business growth, and this project will meet those demands and allow this area to continue to thrive and bring job opportunities. Other states were considered for the expansion, but this Michigan location won, with the upcoming road upgrade being part of the company’s decision.

“Hanover Township is very pleased that MDOT has granted funds to upgrade Coats Road to become an all-season road,” said John Tallis, Hanover Township Supervisor, in an MDOT press release. “This upgrade will make it safer for traffic at the Moscow Road/Coats Road intersection.” We are glad to see developments like these move forward in Branch, Hillsdale, and Jackson Counties.

Pollinator Facts - Did You Know?

Did you know bees aren’t the only pollinators? Butterflies are often cited as another example, but more surprisingly, birds, bats, and other animals can distribute pollen and are considered part of this group. Honey bees are most commonly responsible for pollinating the plants that grow our food. Approximately 50 percent of Michigan’s agricultural output depends on species like these. Many of the state’s crops rely heavily on pollinators, including our apples, blueberries, and cherries.

Unfortunately, there has been some decline in the number of pollinators. When you do yard and garden work this Summer, remember that June 20-26 is Pollinator Week in Michigan. To bring attention to this issue, we are sharing the following chart showing changes in the number of honey-producing colonies by year over the last several decades.

Please share this email with someone you know who will find it valuable.

Click here to view Michigan’s June Pollinator Week resolution.

Pollinator Facts Chart

Numbers (in millions) of managed honey bee colonies in the United States used for honey production by year. Based on National Agriculture Statistics Service data.

Senator Mike Shirkey
320 Farnum Bldg.
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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