Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On the Ballot: These Proposals Will Affect Education

There are six proposals on the ballot. Three of them could have a direct, discernible impact on education in our state. These are non-partisan and toward the bottom of the ballot. Don't miss them!

Michigan Radio has done a terrific series on the ballot proposals, and you can find it here. Each proposal has its own story.

For the back story on the proposals, I would start with the Michigan Radio pieces, but I'm just going to give you a thumbnail sketch regarding the potential impact on the educational system from the ballot proposals--and I'm telling you how I am going to vote on them.

Proposal 1: This is a referendum on the Emergency Manager law

The current emergency manager law gives emergency managers a vast array of tools at their disposal, but in the process it completely disenfranchise the voters. The city council members, mayors, or school board members who have been elected by the residents of a particular locale have no say in what happens, and there is no specific timeline for returning power to them. A no vote says that this emergency manager law goes too far, and a yes vote says that you like this emergency manager law. Although I believe that the old emergency manager law should have been tweaked, I believe this goes too far and I am voting no. If you are interested, I have written about this emergency manager law and its connection to civil rights and justice here; and its connection to school taxation, here.

Proposal 2: This is the proposal that puts collective bargaining as a right into the constitution

Should collective bargaining be in the constitution? That is the essential question here. Lately there has been talk of attempting to turn Michigan into a right-to-work state. If Proposal 2 fails, I'm not sure there is any guarantee that Michigan would become a right-to-work state, but there isn't a guarantee that it wouldn't, either. I think it's reasonable to protect collective bargaining, and I'm voting yes

Proposal 5: This proposal would require a supermajority for any tax hike

You may remember that Proposal A, a 1994 proposal, is responsible for much of the difficulties in the ways that education is funded in Michigan. Steve Norton, executive director of Michigan Parents for Schools, a terrific watchdog agency, has also described the problems with Proposal A and state funding. Oh, and I've written a little bit about it as well, here.

When Matty Moroun, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, got this on the ballot, he wasn't really thinking about schools, but I am. Any reform of state education funding is likely to affect taxation; in fact, any reform of state funding period is likely to affect taxation; and I don't want a supermajority for that. Our legislature is "stuck" enough as it is. So, I am voting no on proposal 5.

Proposal 6: The Bridge proposal

True, this has nothing to do with education. It has everything to do with Matty Moroun (see Proposal 5 above), who wants to preserve his monopoly on bridges. Bridges should be public, not private, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, one of the best things Governor Snyder has done has been to work out a deal with Canada where they pay the costs of an international, public bridge. Let's support that, and vote no on proposal 6.

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