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Education, Transportation Funding Overhaul Recommended By Growth Council

December 5, 2023

Editor’s Note: These recommendations are taken from an outdated draft. Final recommendations have not been issued. 

The Growing Michigan Together Council is recommending a funding system overhaul to the state’s education system and its roads as a way to make the state more attractive for those looking to move, according to a draft copy obtained by MIRS.

Also among the 10 broad recommendations suggested by the Governor’s council are goals to expand housing and bring in immigrants.

“Failure to launch any one of these categories of strategies severely impacts the ability for any of the other strategies to be successful,” the report states.

The 10 recommendations across three areas intersect and create a web of connections that set up one tactic to play off another.

The first area was the overhaul of the Michigan education system, which includes a redesign to the system that would create a way for public schools to provide two years of college for free by accrediting area high schools to give the credits.

This would include changing the length of the school day and the length of the school year.

Much of what is recommended would require a complete change to the Department of Education, State Board of Education, MiLEAP and higher education system “to eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies.”

The way it would be funded would have to create a centralized system that would distribute funding to areas with a higher concentration of poverty and would fully fund the special education and English-language learner programs.

The second area for recommendation would be in attracting international immigrants to come to the schools in the state, and then be able to have jobs ready in the areas that are seeing the graduation rates.

The way the council recommended doing this would be using the H-1B visa system.  The issue would be getting those students that come for school to end up staying.

The recommendations include giving “reverse scholarships” which would have attachments that require a person getting the money stay and work in the state for a set amount of time. Other suggestions would be to give down payments on a home if they promised to stay.

The idea is that once they see the cities and live here for a bit. That, in turn, could bring their family to the area.

Tax credits and development incentives would be given to help incentivize bringing knowledge economy jobs and research and development to the state.

Housing in Michigan cities was the last area mentioned.

“The state should also focus community development strategies on providing a reliable and well-connected public transit system and state and local development-friendly regulations that facilitate the creation of high-density, walkable, high-amenity neighborhoods in our cities and inner ring suburbs,” the report reads.

Changes would need to be made to the Headlee amendment, according to the recommendations, along with zoning laws that would accommodate mixed-use housing, develop transit systems, permit smaller houses, and streets that allow bicycle lanes and sidewalks.

The way roads are funded would also need to be completely overhauled. The zoning would need to be changed to allow for different infrastructure developments in Michigan’s cities.

‘Encourage all infrastructure owners/operators to adopt a ‘dig-once’ approach that coordinates with other infrastructure owners/operators by providing state funding or financial assistance related to the asset,” the report stated.

Growing Michigan Together Council Spokesperson Brittany Hill said the final recommendations would be due Dec. 15, but until that time the process was ongoing.

The council will meet Dec. 1 in Detroit to hear the last presentation on a report from Guidehouse about economic and demographic trends.  The council will meet for the last time on Dec. 8 in Lansing.

“The council is doing the hard work. They are working through it and trying to be thoughtful,” Hill said.

In response to Thursday’s recommendations, House Republican Leader Matt Hall (R-Kalamazoo) said the population council’s current proposal “isn’t even a real plan and has no strategy to grow” Michigan’s population. If these “high-tax recommendations” are included in the final proposal, the Republican leader called the proposal “dead on arrival in the Legislature.”

“It’s just a long wish list for new revenues — tax hikes on Michiganders,” Hall said. “Tampering with the Headlee Amendment, which protects residents against high property taxes, would be especially harmful. Instead of expanding housing options to bring residents to Michigan communities, hiking property taxes would raise housing costs for homeowners and renters alike.”


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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