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Robertson backs bills to keep schools out of deficit

Michigan kids deserve a quality education. I recently supported a package of Senate bills to ensure that local schools are financially sound and managed to provide for their education.

The legislation would bring more transparency to local school district budgeting by creating an "early warning system." The reform would allow the state treasurer to see the assumptions used when a district adopts their annual budget, such as student count, projected expenditures per pupil and projected foundation allowance. This process would help identify potential problems in time for districts to re-do their budgets if necessary to avoid financial distress. According to the Michigan Department of Education, 54 districts and public school academies ended the 2014 fiscal year in deficit.

The package of bills (SB 951-955, 957) has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Liability Reform.

Robertson supports public assistance reform

State assistance is meant to help our most needy families meet basic needs. I recently supported legislation-now awaiting the governor's signature-to establish a suspicion-based pilot program to screen and test people receiving public assistance for illegal drug use. Under SB 275 and HB 4118, individuals who tested positive for illegal use of a controlled substance would be referred for treatment. Assistance would be terminated for those who don't participate in the treatment program, or fail a subsequent drug test or follow-up testing.

Most jobs require a drug test. It just makes sense to ensure those receiving public assistance aren't harming their family or impeding their chance at getting a job by abusing drugs.

Winter safety reminder

When last winter's memorable weather left many Michigan communities without power, many homeowners turned to portable generators.

While this equipment is safe when used properly, the Michigan Public Service Commission stresses the following safety tips:

  • Only use portable generators outside, far away from windows, doors and vents.
  • Place portable generators outside and downwind, with the exhaust pointed away from occupied spaces.
  • Never use portable generators inside homes, garages, basements, sheds or other partially enclosed spaces -- even if using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation.
  • Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector/alarm inside your home-or one with battery backup.

For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc and type in the keywords Carbon Monoxide Safety.