MLA Advocacy - March 26, 2015


Good News as the State Budget Process Continues – House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees Support Increase to Libraries
The next step in the state’s budgeting process is now complete. The good news is both the House and Senate K-12, School Aid, Education Subcommittees concurred with the Executive Budget Recommendation and approved Gov. Snyder’s proposed additional library funding. MLA asked legislators to support the governor’s budget recommendation increasing state aid to libraries by $1 million and Ren zones by $600,000. The budgets now go to the full appropriations committees for consideration.

Chairs of the two committees Sen. Geoff Hansen (R-Hart) and Rep. Phil Potvin (R-Cadillac) are great library advocates. If you are in their district, please reach out to say thank you for their support. Librarians stepped up and provided excellent testimony to the two subcommittees. Asante Cain, Grand Rapids Public Library and Ray Arnett, Fremont Area District Library testified in the House Subcommittee. Lance Werner, Kent District Library testified in Senate Subcommittee.

In addition, Gary Owen, GCSI and I met with key legislators over the past few weeks to ensure they understood the community services and early literacy education libraries provide to communities across the state.

Many of the key provisions of Gov. Snyder's budget, including third grade reading, career and technical education spending, at-risk funding for schools and increased per-pupil spending were retained in some form in the Senate budget. The Senate's proposal allowed for a $13.4 million increase to the governor's career tech education recommendations and doubled the funding available for additional instructional time for kindergarteners as part of the early literacy initiative. It did not concur with the development of an elementary reading assessment in the School Aid Fund budget.

We are still a long way from the finish line. The bills remain in committee and have not yet reached chamber floors. Librarians are a crucial part of the advocacy effort. When you speak with your legislators, please ask them to support the governor’s Executive Budget recommendation.

Open Meetings Act
Does your library serve vast areas and rely on video or telephone conferencing for board meetings?  If so, please let us know. The House Oversight Committee will take testimony next week on HB 4182 requiring board members be physically present at public meetings where they are counted toward a quorum and vote. Rep. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) is considering exempting appointed board members. We are seeking input from any libraries with an elected board, serving vast areas and relying on video or phone conferencing for board meetings.

TIFA and DDA Survey
Thank you for your response to our survey regarding Tax Increment Financing Authorities. We are sharing this information with legislators in an effort to see that dedicated library millages support the library as voters intended.

Ballot Language for Proposal 15-1 – Road Funding
The statewide ballot proposal for road repair funding will appear on the May 5, 2015 special election ballot. The proposal is tie-barred with 10 bills that take effect with its passage. It is important to note: The proposed bill to modify penal fines is not included in that ten-bill package. The administration is stating there is no plan B in the works. However, if the proposal fails, we can expect to see penal fines once again come into play as the legislature attempts to find money for the roads.

The official ballot language describes Proposal 1 as: A proposal to amend the State Constitution to increase the sales/use tax from 6% to 7% to replace and supplement reduced revenue to the School Aid Fund and local units of government caused by the elimination of the sales/use tax on gasoline and diesel fuel for vehicles operating on public roads, and to give effect to laws that provide additional money for roads and other transportation purposes by increasing the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

For the full proposal language click here.


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