Executive Director's Desk - February 12, 2015

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Governor's Budget Recommendation Includes Increases for Libraries
Governor Snyder has recommended a $1 million increase in State Aid to Libraries for fiscal year 2015/16 along with an additional $600,000 for Renaissance Zone Reimbursements and $2.2 million for MPSERS (retirement funding for participating libraries). Senator Jim Stamas (R-Midland), a strong library supporter, was instrumental in facilitating the increases.

This is good news in light of the lower net revenue numbers coming out of the state’s recent estimating conference. Net general fund revenues for the 2016 fiscal year are now projected to come in $532 million lower than officials earlier estimated.

State officials attribute the downturn to a recent surge in corporations cashing in old Michigan Business Tax credits that were issued as economic development incentives.

MLA and GCSI lobbyists will be meeting with key legislators to discuss the library budget. Remember, this is just the first step in the budget process. Both chambers will present their recommendations and the final budget comes from a consensus of the three recommendations.

Following this link to see the Executive Budget document.

Early Literacy Efforts
MLA is asking the administration to include a librarian on his commission to improve third grade reading. We all know that reading success starts early and Michigan’s libraries provide early literacy classes to more than 150,000 Michigan preschoolers every year. They teach the importance of reading as well as encouraging a love of reading all the while helping kids get ready to learn.

Ballot Proposal 2015-1
On May 5 voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would raise the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent. Of the $1.8 billion raised, $1.3 billion goes to state, county, and city/township roads, $300 million goes to schools. The working poor would get a larger earned income tax credit to offset the regressive nature of the sales tax.

The Board of State Canvassers will finalize the 100-word summary for the ballot later in February. It is likely to include language similar to this: "Require the Legislature to use state school aid fund only for aid to public school districts, community colleges, career/technical education, and related scholarships and retirement systems."

In addition, passage of the proposal would trigger a legislative package of 10 bills passed last year. Recall HB 5453 impacting penal fines was not passed as part of that package. This was due, in part, to the quick action of more than 250 library supporters contacting their legislators about the potential for negative impact on library funding.

There is no plan B if the ballot proposal fails. It is likely we will once again be embroiled in a fight to preserve library penal fine funding. Watch for news and alerts from MLA and check our website for the latest updates.

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