A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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HOUSE BILL 4325
House Version of Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Education Budget, as passed 59 to 50 in the House
Introduced by state Rep. Chuck Moss, R-Birmingham

Passed 59 to 50 in the House on May 26, 2011, the final House-Senate agreement for the 2011-2012 school, community college and state university budgets. It appropriates $12.66 billion for K-12 public schools, compared to $12.17 billion originally recommended by Gov. Rick Snyder, and $13.13 billion the previous year (inflated by $420 million in “stimulus” and other one-time money). Per-pupil grants would be reduced by $300, but around $100 of that would be “given back” as a pension contribution subsidy, and another $100 to school districts that adopt specified reforms including paying 10 percent of health insurance benefits, refusing the policy terms of the teacher union’s insurance company, competitive bidding on non-instructional services, consolidating some services and more transparency. The budget includes $133 million to cover potential transition costs of a possible school employee pension reform.

The bill also appropriates $1.36 billion for state universities, compared to $1.58 billion the previous year, and more would be cut from universities that raise tuition by more than 7.1 percent. Community colleges would get $283.8 million, compared to $295.8 million last year. $395 million of the college and university budgets would come from tax revenue earmarked to the School Aid Fund, in the past mostly used just for K-12 schools..

HOUSE BILL 4059
Ban putting union stewards on public payroll
Introduced by state Rep. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy

The bill would ban government or school employee union contracts that pay employees who are union officials for time they spend on the job conducting union business. Among other government employers, many public school districts give local union officials full teacher salary and benefits but do not require them to teach or perform any other educational function. Reportedly the City of Detroit pays $4 million annually to these union officials.

SENATE BILL 140
NOW PUBLIC ACT 16 of 2011
Appropriate $102 million for state land acquisitions
Introduced by state Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart

The bill would appropriate $102 million from the state Natural Resources Trust Fund for various land acquisitions and recreation projects. State oil and gas well royalty money is earmarked for this fund.

HOUSE BILL 4152
Limit certain automatic government union employee pay hikes
Introduced by state Rep. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy

The bill would establish that when a government employee union contract has expired and no replacement has been negotiated, any seniority-based automatic pay hikes for individual employees (“step increases”) may not occur. Also, that any increase in health benefit costs above the former contract be borne by the employee, and establish that the wages and benefits under a new contract may be made retroactive to the expiration date of the old one.

SENATE BILL 144
NOW PUBLIC ACT 22 of 2011
Expand 21st Century Jobs Fund corporate subsidies
Introduced by state Sen. Michael Green. R-Mayville

The bill would authorize granting “21st Century Jobs Fund” corporate subsidies in the form of cash grants and loans to certain information technology and agricultural processing firms selected by state “economic development” officials. 

In this premiere episode of EconPop, Andrew discusses the economics of Academy Award winner Dallas Buyers Club. Subjects include public health and safety regulations, crony capitalism and the role of regulatory capture, the emergence of black and grey markets, and commercial exchange as a means for increased social tolerance.

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