Lansing Update: House Budget Snubs Nonpublic Schools on Safety Funding

Nonpublic School Funding Requests Left Out of House Budget

Despite nearly 3,000 grassroots advocates sending more than 6,000 messages to state lawmakers, a proposed House school spending budget released this week did not restore $18 million to nonpublic schools to pay for safety-related improvements and mental health services.

The House School Aid Appropriations Subcommittee unveiled its first draft of next year’s budget and failed to include nonpublic schools in the funding. Both the Governor’s budget and the Senate’s school spending budget proposed for next year also leave out the $18 million for nonpublic schools, which had been appropriated in this year’s budget and used to pay for improved security systems and address mental health needs by hiring counselors.

The House also excluded nonpublic schools from several other funding provisions that lawmakers had previously appropriated, like money to reimburse nonpublic schools for the cost of complying with state mandates, as well as grant funding to help students participate in robotics competitions.

The Senate version of the school spending budget did include those items, however. The Senate school spending plan has been reported to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

Also missing from each budget proposed for next year at this point is nonpublic school funding that would encourage more individuals to enter the teaching profession and feed more kids. A full list of what MCC and the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools (MANS) are seeking to persuade lawmakers to fund in next year’s budget can be found here.

There are still several steps left in the state budget-setting process, however. The House school spending budget was reported this week to the full House Appropriations Committee for further consideration. That committee would then send the budget to the House floor for approval.

Once the full House and Senate pass their versions of the state budget, lawmakers will then form conference committees to reconcile the differences between the House, Senate, and Governor’s budget to come to a final product that both chambers can agree on, and that the Governor will sign into law.

Thanks to action from Catholic Advocacy Network (CAN) members like you, as well as nonpublic school staff and parents across the state, more than 6,000 messages have been sent to lawmakers urging them to reinstate the funding to promote the safety of all schoolchildren.

As lawmakers continue the budget process, it’s important to continue advocacy for this important state funding for nonpublic schools. Please click or tap here to send a message to your lawmaker and consider sharing this Action Alert with friends and family as well—particularly those who attend or have benefited from Catholic education.

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Lawmakers Consider Funding Increase for Diaper Grant Program for Moms in Need

As the state budget process continues this spring, MCC is keeping tabs on state spending proposals to help clothe the poor, assist refugees and mothers in need, and support Catholic and nonpublic education.

Here’s where some of those key funding proposals stand at this point as budgets begin to move forward:

Diapers for moms in need
The Senate is proposing $14.4 million for the state to bulk purchase diapering supplies and allocate those supplies to diaper assistance programs, maternity homes, local county offices, and other nonprofit agencies that distribute diapers free of charge. The House proposal would retain the current $4.4 million for assistance grants for organizations to distribute diapers to moms in need.
Clothing assistance for the poor
Money set aside to assist low-income families to purchase clothing for the school year was increased from $7.23 million to $10 million in the current budget. The Governor, House and Senate budget proposals all agree to maintain this increase for next year’s budget.
Improving stability for young moms and babies:
While the Governor proposed $24 million for a new statewide Prenatal and Infant Support Program, the funding was not included in the Senate proposal, but the House allocated $9.6 million. The program is described as providing efforts to improve the economic stability of households with very young children.
Taking care of human trafficking survivors

Survivors of human trafficking would continue to benefit from state assistance in all three proposed budgets, including:

  • An additional three months of food assistance provided for domestic violence or human trafficking victims.
  • Continuation of $200,000 in human trafficking intervention services.
  • $50,000 to allow case workers to provide for the immediate needs of food and clothing for children removed from dangerous environments, including child trafficking survivors.
Protecting life by preventing gun violence
Gun violence prevention programs would be funded under the $5 million in violence intervention services included in both the House and Senate budgets. The Senate did not include Governor’s request for $1 million to arrange contracts for training Michigan schools to reduce firearm injuries, but the House included $1.8 million.
Help for immigrants and refugees
In the current year budget, the state set aside $3 million for immigration and legal services. The Governor in her budget proposed $8 million for next year, but the House budgeted nothing. The Senate is expected to release its proposal on this item next week.
Support for nonpublic education
For the state’s dual enrollment program, which allows nonpublic school students to obtain college credits, the Governor maintained the current $3 million in funding and the House agreed to that amount.

There is also $108 million of federal funding proposed in all three proposed budgets to provide meals during the summer to low-income students, provided their public or nonpublic school participates in the national school lunch program.

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MCC-Supported Legislation Promotes Greater Awareness of Safe Gun Storage Requirements

The parents of every school-aged child in the state would be informed about the state law that requires gun owners to safely secure their firearms at home, under House legislation that MCC supported this week.

House Bills 5450 and 5451 build on the passage of the safe storage law last year that instituted requirements—for the first time ever—that Michigan gun owners must safely store their firearms to protect their children from gun injuries or death.

The safe storage law also proscribes criminal penalties if a parent fails to secure their gun and a child causes harm to him or herself or others with the gun. Sadly, tragic incidences involving children hurting themselves with their parents unsecured guns continue to occur in Michigan, including a story from Macomb County from as recently as this week, and prosecutors are using the new safe storage law to hold parents responsible for their children’s gun-related injuries.

MCC supported the safe storage law, testifying in support of the measure as well as two other gun safety policies the Legislature approved last year. In its advocacy for the safe storage law, MCC encouraged lawmakers to build on the policy by working to promote the law and its requirements to all gun owners.

This House legislation marks a significant step in that direction by tasking the state 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 be required to post a link on their website to the state informational notice.

MCC supports the legislation, and while the current version of the legislation only makes the information available to nonpublic schools upon request, lawmakers plan to amend the bills to ensure the notice is sent directly to nonpublic schools, as well.

House Bill 5450, sponsored by Rep. Sharon MacDonell (D-Troy), and House Bill 5451, sponsored by Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Okemos), were before the House Education Committee this week, but for testimony only.

To learn more about MCC’s advocacy on gun violence and the Catholic case for responding to this threat to human life, click or tap here to read an edition of MCC’s Focus dedicated to the issue.

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All Schools Would Benefit From Updated Heart Attack Response Plans Under MCC-Backed Bills

Legislation to ensure all Michigan schools—including nonpublic schools—are prepared to respond to heart attacks on school property passed both the House and Senate this week.

House Bills 5527 and 5528 earned MCC support after the legislation was amended to specifically include nonpublic schools. The bills require schools to develop cardiac emergency response plans, which includes the placement of automated external defibrillators on school property as well as training for school staff about how to respond to heart attacks.

The legislation updates current requirements for schools to implement cardiac emergency response plans, a requirement that had applied to nonpublic schools. Without the amendment to include nonpublic schools in this new legislation, Catholic and other nonpublic schools would not have benefited from the updated requirements to ensure students and staff know how to respond to sudden heart attacks.

MCC and the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools (MANS) often seek to remind lawmakers to include nonpublic schools in legislation such as this, which is geared toward ensuring the safety of all Michigan schoolchildren, regardless of where they go to school.

The heart attack response bills call for lawmakers to appropriate funding to ensure schools can carry out the requirements, otherwise, schools would not have to comply with the requirements.

House Bill 5527, sponsored by Rep. John Fitzgerald (D-Wyoming), and House Bill 5528, sponsored by Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit), were approved by wide bipartisan margins in both the Senate and House this week, and head to the Governor next for her signature.

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