Lansing Update: Another Attempt to Restore Nonpublic School Funding Rejected

Amendments to Restore Nonpublic School Funds Rejected as Budgets Continue

An attempt to add funding to the state budget for nonpublic schools to pay for school safety upgrades unfortunately was rejected along party lines this week in the state Senate.

There were a series of amendments offered to amend the Senate’s proposed budget to fund nonpublic schools, including the $18 million nonpublic schools received each of the past two years to pay for security upgrades and mental health staff.

Unfortunately, that amendment was defeated along party lines, with Democrats voting against it and Republicans voting for it.

Other amendments to support nonpublic schools that were defeated included a proposal to include nonpublic schoolteachers in two programs aimed at improving teacher recruitment.

One program is called the Future Educator Fellowship, which provides up to $10,000 per year for first‐time degree seekers and career changers to become a PreK–12 teacher. Students must attend public or private higher education institutions, and the fellowship would be repaid if the student does not teach at a public school for several years.

In the first year of this program, teaching at a nonpublic school was also an option for qualifying for the fellowship. But in this budget proposal, nonpublic schools were excluded, which would be the second year that nonpublic schools were left out.

The other program is a Student Teacher Stipend that provides up to $9,600 per semester for students attending teacher preparation programs at public or private colleges. However, students can only receive it if they student-teach in a public school.

Sen. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), who offered the amendments to include nonpublic schools in the teacher recruitment initiatives, said on the Senate floor this week that the programs were aimed at addressing the teacher shortage in the state.

But, he added, the programs in the budget treat teacher prep students and student teachers “differently depending on where they go to school or where they are assigned to student teach.”

Albert continued in his speech: “Let’s say two college classmates get their student teaching assignments—one’s assigned to a public school, and the other is assigned to a private school. Why should only the student assigned to the public school receive the stipend when they are training through the same university?”

Another rejected amendment in the Senate would have preserved $13.3 million in federal COVID-era funds intended for nonpublic schools, which are now being proposed to be repurposed toward public schools.

As previously reported in Lansing Update, the House school spending proposal does include the $18 million for nonpublic school safety, as well as money to reimburse nonpublic schools for state health and safety mandates.

The Senate school budget also includes the mandate reimbursement funds, as well as funding to allow nonpublic students to participate in robotics competitions.

The state budget process is not yet over. The full House and Senate have now passed their versions of the budget. The next step is the appointment of joint House and Senate conference committees, which will negotiate with the Governor’s office to produce a final plan. That’s expected to occur over the next few weeks. The budget being crafted right now will take effect Oct. 1 of this year.

Lawmakers may also have to consider changes based on the latest estimates on state revenue for this year and next year. Officials believe the state is bringing in more general revenue than previously expected, but money directed toward schools is expected to be lower than previously expected.

MCC will continue to monitor the budget items of interest to Catholic and nonpublic schools, as well as other spending proposals that include helping the poor and vulnerable, meeting the needs of expectant moms and their children, and services for immigrants and refugees.

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Bill Promoting Awareness of Safe Gun Storage Requirements Continues Forward

The parents of every school-bound child in the state would receive information about Michigan’s safe gun storage law under legislation approved by a House committee this week.

Under House Bills 5450 and 5451, the state would be required to develop an informational notice regarding the safe storage law and to disseminate it to schools. Schools would then be required to distribute it to the parents or legal guardians of every enrolled student and post a link on their websites to the state notice.

MCC supports the legislation, especially after the Catholic Conference called for lawmakers to educate the public about the safe gun storage law when the Legislature first approved the law in 2023.

Nonpublic schools would also receive the information from the state and be required to send the notice home to parents, thanks to advocacy from MCC to ensure nonpublic school parents are included.

Michigan law requires gun owners to safely lock up their guns to protect children or unauthorized people from accessing them or face criminal penalties if a child accesses the gun and uses it to cause harm.

While the law provides tough penalties for those whose failure to comply leads to tragic incidents, MCC hopes that raising awareness about the safe storage requirement—such as through the notice requirement in this House legislation—will prevent the tragic loss of life from occurring in the first place.

The legislation is now on the House floor for further consideration.

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Public Reports on Predatory Payday Practices Published Under Pending Legislation

More information about the impact predatory payday loans have on the poor would be made publicly available under legislation that is on the Governor’s desk.

House Bill 4343 would task the state department charged with oversight of the payday lending industry to produce an annual public report on the number of payday lenders in Michigan and where they’re located, how many customers use payday loans, the fees they pay to access those loans, and more.

The goal of the legislation is to shed more light on payday loan practices, which have been known to trap already cash-strapped and vulnerable individuals into a spiraling debt cycle due to the high cost and short turnaround to repay the loans.

MCC has repeatedly advocated for other available, lower-interest alternatives to be promoted rather than expanding the payday lending industry.

The Catholic Conference previously testified in support of the legislation, which was approved by wide bipartisan margins in both chambers of the Legislature.

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