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Weiss, Steckloff Resign from HDCC

July 9, 2024

House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC) Chair Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park) has resigned from her campaign leadership post, along with Finance Chair Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills), only a week after the chamber passed an $18.5 billion School Aid budget without an accompanying bill codifying changes to the public school employees retirement system (MPSERS).

Weiss also chairs the House Appropriations School Aid and Education subcommittee, while Steckloff chairs the Higher Education and Community Colleges subcommittee.

House Democratic Spokesperson Amber McCann said: “The Speaker is in the process of revising the caucus campaign structure and fine-tuning the operation.

“He appreciates the hard work of Rep. Weiss and Rep. Steckloff over the past several months and looks forward to their continued support heading into November,” McCann said.

Neither Weiss nor Steckloff returned a request for comment on their resignations, which a source close to the House told MIRS was in protest over the failure to transmit SB 911, which was voted out during budget day and would make permanent changes to MPSERS in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget.

According to reporting first done by The Detroit News, several lawmakers expressed their frustration that they believed when voting on the budget that the Senate bill would also be transmitted from the House. The Senate bill was not transmitted, however.

In a release sent by Tate’s office last Thursday, the Speaker said: “The House passed a significant number of bills over the past several days and the Clerk’s office is still working to transmit all those bills.

“There is also still more work to be done with our colleagues in the Senate and with the Governor to determine the final version of MPSERS reform, but I am committed to continuing that conversation,” he added.

In a post on Facebook that was later deleted and added to, Steckloff said: “A decision was made, without our knowledge, to not send the bill over to the Senate, killing all hopes for this critical funding.”

“I’m extremely disappointed and angry that Democratic House leadership would do this to our caucus and our schools,” Steckloff added.

She later clarified that the funding will get to schools next year with the passage of the budget, but is not extended past 2025, as would be done if SB 911 was passed.

The bill lowers school districts’ MPSERS responsibilities, but by 3.5 percentage points, which is half of the 7 percent the school groups wanted. It takes the rate from 20.96 percent to 17.46 percent in FY 2025, 17 percent in FY ‘26, 16 percent for FY ‘27 and 15.21 percent every year after FY ‘28.

Without its passage, the state budget includes a one-time 5.75 percent decrease in the rate school districts pay into MPSERS, which would save them an estimated $589 million, with an additional $180 million set aside to reimburse teachers for paying 3 percent of their salaries to retiree healthcare.

A source close to school advocacy groups said the reimbursement mechanism doesn’t mean teachers don’t still have to pay in 3 percent, and next year, if there’s no money in the budget, there won’t be a reimbursement.

With a lower percentage decrease than the 7 percent that school groups called for and new rumblings that the money could come with more strings attached, like increased accountability provisions, this source told MIRS a good idea has become essentially ruined.

School groups initially asked for the MPSERS reforms as a way to free up money for local school officials, but the reform was justified in part by the removal of any foundational allowance increase for public schools.

While a foundational allowance increase is also a one-time appropriation, it’s harder to go back on, as schools are now already expecting the money, this source told MIRS.

Michigan Education Association (MEA) President and CEO Chandra Madafferi said the rebate and per-pupil increase brought about by the budget’s MPSERS change will allow local schools to invest more in students and school staff, but there were also “deep cuts to categorical funding for school safety and student mental health — cuts that will need to be navigated at the local level to keep our schools safe learning spaces for all students and employees.”

Madafferi said she’s hopeful lawmakers will return after the summer break to pass a supplemental budget that funds these mental health and safety priorities.

“Without additional funding through a supplemental budget, our state risks falling short of providing the quality public education that every student deserves and needs,” she said.

Peter Spadafore, executive director of the Michigan Alliance for Student Opportunity, said school groups were not expecting a 0 percent foundational increase, “coupled with no statutory protection for any rate buydown.

“We are encouraging lawmakers to return to Lansing to quickly pass HB 5803,” he said, referring to the slightly different House alternative to SB 911, which has been sent to the Senate but could not be voted on before summer break due to the five-day holdover rule.

Spadafore said this legislation would “enshrine the rate buydown into law, to alleviate the 3 percent payroll tax for 103,000 employees and to make the budget balanced.”

With a little over four months before election day, and the Legislature unlikely to return before September, House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) Communications Director Greg Manz said the “calamity and confusion engulfing House Democrats… is something political observers would be well-served to track throughout the summer after the fallout from their irresponsible and misguided budget.

“As the House Democrat Chaos Caucus comes up for air following their egregious budget vote in the dead of night to raid the teachers’ pension fund and cut school safety funding, we are not surprised to see them self-implode,” Manz said. “Fortunately for Speaker Tate, he only has to subject himself to a few more months of his own Chaos Caucus members calling him a liar.”

MIGOP Chair Pete Hoekstra said, “Michigan Republicans have proven time and time again that we’re united behind one common goal – defeating Democrats up and down the ticket in November to deliver some much-needed relief and leadership for Michiganders. These latest resignations prove that Michigan Democrats are just like their national counterparts – a mess.”


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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