In May, members of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance traveled to Lansing to meet with elected officials and advocate for our legislative priorities. The main points of discussion were the budget, Transformational Brownfield legislation, and the Alliance’s “One Size Does Not Fit All” theme for 2017-2018.
First, the Alliance thanked legislators for their support of the Transformational Brownfield package. The bill passed the House (85-22) and Senate (27-6), and was recently signed by Governor Rick Snyder.
As the preliminary drafts of the 2017-2018 FY Budget had started to pass, the Alliance wanted to educate and inform legislators of key issues such as:
Under Proposal A of 1994, each Michigan school district is allocated a per pupil amount to support school operations. Currently, the minimum districts receive $7,511 per pupil, while the maximum districts receive $8,229 per pupil – a gap of $718. While the gap has closed significantly since 1994, the inequity remains and negatively impacts most northern Michigan schools hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars annually.
To close this gap, the state has used the 2x formula – where school districts receiving the minimum per pupil allowance would receive two times the amount of increase as school districts receiving the maximum allowance. The Alliance, in partnership with education and business leaders from across our region, has supported the 2x formula until the foundation allowance gap between the maximum and minimum school districts is closed.
Talent attraction and retention has quickly become the number one issue for business in northern Michigan. Employers from across the industry spectrum are struggling to find talent to fill critical positions, and the need is hampering the ability of many industries to grow and expand.
The Alliance supports an expansion for skilled trades training and equally supports an increase for the Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF). Working with our workforce development partners, we have identified a need for $20 million in additional investment to keep pace with growing skills gap demands. Though initial budgets for FY 2017-18 have included increases to STTF far short of the suggested $20 million, the Alliance still supports increases at any level to this important and impactful tool for our region.
Alliance chambers and their members are partnering with universities, community colleges and ISDs across our region to help provide training and education for 21st century careers. In order to stay ahead of the curve, community colleges in northern Michigan are requesting funding for capital infrastructure projects.
The Alliance fully supports the critical projects for northern Michigan community college institutions in this year’s budget, which include:
Chamber Alliance partners participated in a host of meetings, including:
Sen. Schmidt (Staff, Molly)
Sen. Maj. Leader Meekhof
The trip produced some positive outcomes, including a successful vote on the Transformational Brownfield legislation in the House, and renewed effort from our lawmakers on reinserting the 2x funding formula in the K-12 budget.
The trip also produced an lengthy meeting with Speaker Tom Leonard and Speaker Pro Temp Lee Chatfield on STTF funding, 2x funding formula, and an understanding of our “One Size Does Not Fit All” mantra.