Rep. Guerra's Capitol and Community Update 3-15-19

Friday, March 15, 2019

ear Friends,

Hello, and welcome to my e-newsletter. I would like to take this moment to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve you in the 95th House District and to act as your voice in the Capitol. This issue of my e-newsletter will provide an update on what’s going on at the Capitol this month, including:

●       Coffee Hours

●       Budget Process

●       Gov. Whitmer’s Budget Proposals

●        School Grants

As your representative, I am most effective at my job when acting on your input, and I encourage you to reach out to me and my staff with any questions, comments or concerns you may have about issues in the district or legislation that will impact our state. You can contact me toll-free at (855) 347-8095, by email or through my website, guerra.housedems.com. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your commitment to the community we both call home.

Coffee Hours

Please join me at my next Coffee Hour at the SVRC Marketplace Lobby, 203 S Washington Ave in Saginaw on Monday, March 18 from 4-6 p.m.

Budget Process

 

The budget is developed through a long, multi-step process that involves the governor, state Senate, and state House of Representatives’ approval. The Governor presented her budget recommendations on March 5, and the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees have begun to deliberate over each department’s budget. These subcommittees will report to the full House Appropriations and Senate Appropriations committees before going before the full chambers they are within. After the House and Senate prepare their budgets, they will go into a joint conference committee and be subject to a final round of changes before being sent to the Governor for approval. Below is a chart that shows the process and the estimated time of the year each occurs.

Gov. Whitmer’s Budget Proposals 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, outlined her budget recommendations for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The Governor’s proposals are the first step in negotiating the state’s next budget that starts October 1, 2019. Below are the highlights of her recommendations.

I look forward to presenting these proposals in more detail at my upcoming Town Hall and hearing your reactions and ideas for addressing three of our state’s most pressing challenges: infrastructure, education, and clean water. 

The Path to Success Starts with Education

Study after study has confirmed that we are massively underfunding our schools. Gov. Whitmer’s budget proposal includes an additional $507 million in funding — the largest in a generation — to invest in our children. Her proposal increases per-pupil funding significantly and helps the equity gap between schools across the state.  It also allocates additional funding for our special education, at-risk, and Career Technical Education (CTE) students.

To address challenges awaiting our students once they graduate, Gov. Whitmer introduced the MI Opportunity and Michigan Reconnect programs to ensure every student has access to the tools and resources they need to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow without going into inescapable debt. Her budget proposal includes funding these programs.

Fixing the Roads - For Real

 

The most talked-about of the governor’s proposals was her plan to raise revenue to fix the roads. The reality is that we’re currently $2.5 billion short of adequately funding the road improvements we so desperately need and that the last plan passed in 2015 was not enough and resulted in a further deterioration of our roads and bridges. Even worse, we have not appropriately prioritized high-traffic roads like the ones right here at home, which are in truly terrible condition. Gov. Whitmer has proposed three 15 cents per gallon fuel tax (gas and diesel) increases starting on October 1, 2019 with subsequent increases on April 1, 2020 and October 1, 2020 to raise the needed revenue, while proposing tax cuts for working families in other essential areas of the budget to offset these costs and ensure that this much-needed increase does not turn into a regressive tax. All revenue raised would go into a fund dedicated to fixing high priority (high volume and economically important) roads and bridges. This is just the start of the roads conversation, and whatever the final budget looks like I am committed to one that prioritizes the infrastructure funding we need without overburdening our working families.

Helping our Working Families

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit program for low to moderate income working families. Gov. Whitmer’s budget would double the EITC from 6 percent of the federal credit to 12 percent, so that hardworking Michiganders are better able to support their families. In 2011, the EITC was at 20 percent of the federal credit. The credit was slashed to 6 percent to offset business tax cuts.

School Grants

Michigan elementary and middle schools are invited to apply for Building Healthy Communities*, a public-private initiative designed to fight obesity and improve childhood health through school-based wellness programming. Building Healthy Communities, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is an evidence-based, comprehensive, school-wide initiative that supports children’s health by providing students, teachers, and administrators with tools and resources to improve student health while creating a healthier school environment.

Applications are currently being accepted for the Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program and Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools.

•        Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program – Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on April 27. Interested schools can also join an informational conference call at 10 a.m. Mar. 15, 2019. To join, call (641) 715-0688 and enter passcode 517761#.

•        Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools – Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. on March 22. Interested schools can watch a recorded webinar at projecthealthyschools.org/BHC*.

For more information on Building Healthy Communities or to apply for any of the programs, visit bcbsm.com/buildhealth*.   

There are three programs available through Building Healthy Communities to help meet the needs of Michigan schools for the 2019-2020 school year.  Interested schools are encouraged to review full program descriptions and application information at www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth*.