Lansing State Journal. February 14, 2019
Break up campaign funding violations
A group that has actively campaigned for Governor Gretchen Whitmer He is being slapped and now has to pay a fine for his gross violations of the Michigan campaign finance bill. This law exists for a reason and the state must do more to ensure that it is enforced.
Whitmer began his term by issuing an executive directive claiming part of the campaign finance law that public service employees remain in power using public funds or the time allowed for campaigning. It's a start, but it should not distract from the problems that arose during his own campaign.
Building a better Michigan, the group that faced sanctions, spent more than $ 2.4 million in 2018 and broadcast Whitmer-friendly TV commercials that she said constituted a form of "advocacy", although that they mention that Whitmer was a candidate for the governorship.
Under Michigan law, there should not have been any coordination between the Whitmer campaign and Build a Better Michigan. Yet, in commercials, the governor speaks directly to the camera with Hollywood-quality production.
Many have called, including former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who opened an investigation into the campaign, after complaints were filed by the Michigan GOP and the Michigan Freedom Fund. New Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson continued the investigation.
The strong appearance of coordination between the group and the campaign, in addition to other findings of wrongdoing, imposed a kind of sanction.
Benson forced the group to agree to pay a settlement of $ 37,500, less than 2% of what he spent during the campaign.
But the precedent of such violations in the state of Michigan is that the offending organization must pay the state 100 percent of the money spent during the campaign.
It should be noted that Mark Burton directed Build the Better Michigan during the campaign. He is now Whitmer's chief strategist.
Benson, who has already sided with the Democrats on a recent redistricting deal, continues to show his partisan colors by stating that Build a Better Michigan illegally spent more than $ 2 million in the mid-term elections. Yet, she then gave the group what Tony Daunt, executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund, calls a "feather tickling on the wrist".
"This conciliation agreement is incredibly partisan and corrupt," says Daunt. "It's not just a random group trying to help Whitmer become a governor. He was led by his long-time ally who is now paid by taxpayers. "
This is not the precedent that Benson should create for the next election. If the cost of giving an advantage to a candidate – even if it is illegal – in an election is low, organizations simply include it in their spending plan. As long as their party wins, they can find ways to avoid penalties.
In the future, fines will not be more than slaps for campaign financing offenders.
Investigations should also be faster so that fines can be imposed during the race.
In this way, candidates remain more responsible for their actions – and the actions of their supporters.
Lansing State Journal. February 13, 2019
Only a bipartite solution can solve the current crisis of education in Michigan.
It's 2019 and over 50% of Michigan's third-graders can not read at grade level.
The state undoubtedly goes through a "crisis of education and skills" – as Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday evening the speech of the State of the State.
But that's not a new problem.
Michigan's third-graders rank among the country's ten poorest states in terms of literacy. And before people start pointing fingers at downtown or public schools, this poses a problem for state schools.
To solve this problem, it will probably be necessary to overhaul the system, on which the Republican and Democratic leaders seem to agree in principle. Yet, they do not agree on the way forward.
The big question: how will the state pay for the programs it hopes to implement?
The most likely options: reallocate money from other parts of the state budget or raise taxes.
What can Governor Whitmer and this legislature make that decades of Michigan leaders failed?
It remains to be seen.
Why is a new bipartite solution essential?
Whitmer's call for a new two-party solution is essential.
"Republican or Democratic schoolchildren do not exist," she said Tuesday. "It does not happen because Michigan kids have less talent. This does not happen because our children are less motivated. This does not happen because our educators are less dedicated. This happens because generations of leaders have failed them. "
We have already taken this path.
In 2005, a bipartite group of 41 members, dubbed the Cherries Commission, led by former Lieutenant Governor John Cherry, issued a plan to double the number of Michigan adults holding regular jobs. a post-secondary certificate or diploma within the next 10 years.
But there was no question of funding the recommendations of the report. Progress has been made, particularly with respect to toughening high school graduation requirements, but during the 2008 recession and Michigan's extremely slow recovery, plans have been largely surpassed.
Now that Whitmer is renewing its call for similar goals, there must be a willingness to invest and pay for these initiatives.
Our children can not afford to wait for our elect to find out. Companies that rely on an educated workforce to succeed can not do it either.
Approximately 44% of Michigan's workforce has completed post-secondary education – whether it's a four-year diploma, a community college, or a skilled trades certification – but that's not the case. is clearly insufficient.
Since 2011, almost all new jobs require education going beyond a high school diploma, according to a report published in 2018 by the Michigan Round Table on Higher Education.
In his speech on Tuesday, Whitmer called for 60% of Michigan's labor force to complete post-secondary education by 2030 – an ambitious goal that will require bipartisan support.
But that's what Michigan needs.
"Michigan's greatest strength is – and has always been – our people," Whitmer said Tuesday.
Hope that Michigan residents have elected the right people to finally solve the education crisis.
Grand Haven Grandstand. February 12, 2019
The snow day waiver, it's cheating the students
Snow days are perfect when you are a child. It's an unexpected day off to go out and romp in the snow or stay and watch brain-less television hours. It's an extra day to do your homework or study for a big test.
For teachers, a day of snow is probably a welcome break.
But the mountain of snow and ice that has accumulated over the past two weeks is ridiculous (a nod to an unthinking MTV show).
Michigan requires schools to have a minimum of 180 teaching days, or more than 1,098 hours in total, each school year. Of this total, school districts are allowed to cancel up to six days per year due to circumstances beyond their control. This includes snowstorms, icy roads, power outages – all of which have been going on for a few weeks – and health issues.
We commend superintendents of local school districts for putting the safety of students and their staff first by keeping doors closed when it is downright dangerous to be on the road (in the case of recent events on ice) and too cold to wait outside. for a bus (as with wind chills below zero).
However, we are discussing asking for waivers for three extra days of snow so that they do not have to extend the school year to meet the 180 days required.
What does it teach children? Are the rules made to break?
A waiver requested is not automatic. School officials must demonstrate that they can not postpone missed days later in the school year.
But this happens often. In fact, about 200 Michigan school districts have benefited from additional "snow" days after making claims last year, the Lansing State Journal recently reported. According to the Michigan Department of Education, only 10 districts did not have extra days after their application.
Could schools make up for lost time by canceling spring break? Many families have already planned and put money for getaways for this period. It's just too short.
But extending the school year by a few days or even a week in June should be the solution. It is already a common conversation every winter when a series of sunny days are announced. This should not be surprising. Especially this year.
We expect our children to be properly educated. This requires time spent at school. And the state has long calculated that as half the days of a calendar year. Otherwise cheating their education is not the solution.
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