Wednesday, September 30, 2009

News of the Day

Today’s Goal: Complete the 2009-10 Budget

The legislature rolled into Lansing Tuesday with the goal of completing the 2009-10 budgets. It will likely take until the last minute on Wednesday to reach that goal.

In a statement, House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) said, "The House is preparing to move budgets agreed to with the Senate on Tuesday. House Democrats are also are preparing plans to protect police and fire protection, health care for children and seniors, Promise Scholarships, K-12 education and other programs that are essential to Michigan's economic turnaround."

Several advocacy groups criticized lawmakers for pushing through a budget with serious cuts without a balance of new revenues to cover needed services to maintain a quality of life for Michigan.

It’s not too late to make your voice heard in the waning hours. Please contact your state senator and representative immediately to tell them how further cuts to education will hurt your students and your community.

Reminder: Many school districts have policies about communicating with legislators on school time and equipment, so wait until you are away from school to contact your legislators or use your personal cell phone when you are off duty. To stay informed at home, sign up to receive the MEA Votes e-newsletter at

Latest Update

Conference committees on Revenue Sharing, Department of Community Health and Department of Human Services have all reached a deal and have signed conference reports. Reports will now go to the floor for debate and votes by each chamber. Early Tuesday afternoon the Michigan Department of Education Budget passed the House and was sent to the Senate for approval.

Just the Facts – Powers and Duties given to State Government by HB 5345

Speaker Dillon’s proposed mandatory government-run health plan

Each day we will provide some of the powers and duties that this legislation gives to state government that normally is provided at the local level by local school board members, city councils, county commissioners, etc.

* The board shall review recommendations of the office of state employer as to health benefit plans and total premium cost for each plan to be adopted as part of the MI health benefits program to be offered for public employees or other beneficiaries. Sec. 7(a)

* The board shall adopt or reject the recommendations of the office of state employer based on the criteria listed in sections 8 and 12. Sec. 7(b)

* The board shall issue directions to the office of state employer as to changes to be researched, developed, included, and resubmitted for any rejected recommendation. Sec. 7(c)

* The board shall assess the financial stability of the benefit plans proposed for adoption as parts of the MI health benefits program. Sec. 7(d)

* The board shall assess the financial stability of the MI health benefits program not less than annually after adoption and implementation. Sec. 7(e)

State health scheme vs. federal health reform

How does the proposal affect the state and federal budgets?

State Plan

Speaker Dillon claims the proposal could save $900 million. But there is no proof that purported savings will materialize. If there are any savings, they will come from significant benefit reductions and increased employee out-of-pocket costs. Many states that run health plans for public employees are having financial difficulties with the plans, even running deficits. If the Michigan plan runs a deficit, taxpayers will be forced to pay the bill regardless of costs.

Federal Health Reform Plan

Obama estimates his plan will cost $900 billion over 10 years. Most of the money will be reallocated from current health care expenditures. Additional money will come from reduced health care costs and premiums paid by consumers.