We know that STEM skills are an important part of filling jobs of the 21st century. Competitive robotics has become a fun and popular way for students to get hooked with a passion for STEM skills and activities.
In past years, the state has provided up to $3 million in grants for schools to start and grow extracurricular robotics teams.
That grant funding for robotics teams has been pulled from the Michigan House version of the School Aid Budget. We need your help to get it restored in conference committee.
OUR ASK: Support the Senate version of Section 99h of the School Aid budget.
Last year, changes to Section 99h of the 2018-2019 School Aid Fund budget allowed for both FIRST and VEX competitive robotics programs to be eligible for state robotics grants. In addition, legislators boosted the eligible statewide grant pool to $4 million for both VEX and FIRST Robotics programs.
These small but significant changes led to explosive growth in both the number of new teams and competitions in over 450 school districts around the state. That means: more districts, more students, more excitement, and more STEM!
What’s even more exciting is that nearly half of that growth came from students and school districts in northern Michigan.
In your letter or contact with legislators, you may wish to include some of the rough growth numbers from last year’s budget:
Please ask the legislators below to support the Michigan Senate version of section 99h of the FY 2019-2020 School Aid Budget. The Senate retains the language under 99h that allows multiple robotics programs in ALL schools and increases the budget for grants statewide by $200,000.
Contact these legislators today and ask for their support of the Senate version of Section 99h in the School Aid Budget:
|Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield||LeeChatfield@house.mi.gov
|Representative Triston Cole, Majority Floor Leader||TristonCole@house.mi.gov
|Representative Shane Hernandez, Chair, Appropriations Committee (House)
|Representative Aaron Miller, Chair, K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee (House)||AaronMiller@house.mi.gov
|State Senator Wayne Schmidt, Chair, K-12 Appropriation Subcommittee (Senate)||SenWSchmidt@senate.michigan.gov
|State Senator Jim Stamas, Chair, Appropriations Committee (Senate)||SenJStamas@senate.michigan.gov
Dear Representative/Senator XX,
I am writing today to respectfully ask your support for including the Senate version of Section 99h of the School Aid Budget for FY 2019-2020. The Senate version maintains funding for grants to all school districts for competitive robotics programs with FIRST and VEX robotics platforms.
We know that STEM skills are an important part of filling jobs of the 21st century. Competitive robotics has become a fun and popular way for students to get hooked and grow passionate about STEM skills and activities. Thanks to the work of the legislature and administration in making STEM learning a priority, competitive robotics teams are growing in Michigan above the world average. This has come from dedicated teachers, parents and students – and a small, yet mighty investment from the State of Michigan.
We urge you to ask your colleagues on the School Aid Budget conference committee to support the Senate version of Section 99h, which has a proven track record of fueling competitive robotics and STEM growth in our state.
At a Press Conference in Traverse City on June 17th, a host of state and local dignitaries from different places on the industry and political spectrum to show support of a widely used and successful talent development program called Going Pro.
Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Director acting-Director Stephanie Beckhorn, State Senator Curt VanderWall (35th – Ludington), State Representative Triston Cole (105th – Mancelona), Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers, and representatives from community colleges, regional Michigan Works! agencies, ISD programs, employers, employees, and students who have successfully used the program to address talent and skills gaps in the region.
Alliance Director of Government Relations was also invited to speak and talked about the strong business support for the program in the region and around the state. He also took the time to highlight the support and impact the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance has had on advocating for Going Pro in front of the region’s legislators.
Below is an excerpt of Wood’s comments:
Thank you, Senator VanderWall and Representative Cole.
And thank you, Mayor Carruthers.
My name is Kent Wood, and I serve as the Traverse City Area Chamber’s Director of Government Relations.
The ability of Michigan employers to find highly skilled and capable employees is more difficult today than ever before.
In fact, the skills gap is often cited as a top concern in the business community.
That’s why earlier this month eight regional chambers of commerce in Traverse City, Lansing, Detroit, Flint, Saginaw County, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, Southwest Michigan and Grand Rapids announced their support for bringing more Professional Trades talent into the state’s workforce.
In addition, the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance also supports Going PRO.
The Alliance is a partnership of more than nine Chambers and economic development organizations from northern lower and the UP that we are part of and help lead.
Supporting Going Pro is one of the priorities of the Alliance that includes the Chambers in:
We’re all trying to do different things in our respective regions.
We all are aware Democrats and Republicans don’t always agree.
Business and labor don’t always see eye to eye either.
But we are all in support of Going PRO and advocating for state policies that encourage more talent to enter the workforce.
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance released a 5-part plan with recommendations on generating and distributing new state revenues for road and bridge construction in Michigan.
The Alliance’s “2019 Road Funding Principles” document calls on state lawmakers to dedicate new fuel taxes or fees to road and bridge construction under regional funding models that are equitable for Northern Michigan. The priorities were drafted in the wake of renewed calls in Lansing for more dedicated revenue – including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to raise the state’s gasoline tax 45 cents per gallon to raise an additional $1.5 billion for roads.
“The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance has strongly and consistently advocated for strengthening Michigan’s infrastructure including its road and bridges,” Chamber Alliance Government Relations Director Kent Wood said. “As state lawmakers begin to discuss new and expanded revenue streams for road construction, it is critical that these measures are soundly administered and distributed to ensure that Northern Michigan receives sufficient funding for its transportation network to accommodate our area’s large visitor influx, and help deliver goods and services outside our region.”
The Alliance’s recommendations cover five specific areas in the road funding debate and the various proposals being discussed in the Michigan Legislature. They include:
About the Alliance
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance spans 14 counties and represents nearly 8,000 members of Northern Michigan’s business community. It’s composed of the Chambers of Commerce in Traverse City, Alpena, Benzie County, Cadillac, Charlevoix, Gaylord, Manistee and Petoskey and the Lake Superior Community Partnership in Marquette County. Associate members include the chambers in Elk Rapids, Harbor Springs, Boyne Area, Cheboygan, Sault Area and East Jordan.