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2009 House Bill 4313: Authorize 3-mill property tax increase for school buses and computers
  1. Introduced by Rep. Mark Meadows (D) on February 17, 2009, to allow school districts to use “sinking fund” taxes for a wider variety of purposes. Under current law, sinking funds are permanent funds that may be used only for the specified land acquistions, construction or major repairs. Regular school bonds may be used to fund a much wider array of activities. Schools are allowed to levy up to five mills for 20 years for sinking funds. Unlike bond votes, the ballot question would not have to identify the purpose of the tax increase other than "sinking fund," and the expanded uses the bill would allow potentially include items considered operating expenses. Since new operating expense millages were prohibited by the 1994 Proposal A initiative, it's possible the bill would require a 3/4 majority vote in the House and Senate, as required by the Constitution on any bill amending an initiative adopted by popular vote.
    • Referred to the House Education Committee on February 17, 2009.
      • Reported in the House on March 12, 2009, with the recommendation that the substitute (H-1) be adopted and that the bill then pass.
    • Substitute offered in the House on March 18, 2009, to replace the previous version of the bill with one that limits the expanded sinking fund uses to buying school buses, computers and software; requires a sinking fund election to be in either on the August or November election days, and requires districts with sinking fund to post a list of all district expenditures online every three months ("check register"). Note: Although formally adopted, the substitute was quickly replaced by one that does not have these limitations. The substitute passed by voice vote in the House on March 18, 2009.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. Tom McMillin (R) on March 18, 2009, to tie-bar the bill to House Bill 4490, meaning this bill cannot become law unless that one does also. HB 4490 would eliminate the 150-school cap on the number of charter schools (public school academies) that can be authorized by universities. Note: Although passed, the amendment was not included in a subsequent substitute version of the bill that was adopted. The amendment passed by voice vote in the House on March 18, 2009.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. Paul Opsommer (R) on March 18, 2009, to only allow school districts that have adopted a merit pay system for teachers to impose the tax increase the bill would authorize. Note: Although passed, the amendment was not included in a subsequent substitute version of the bill that was adopted. The amendment passed by voice vote in the House on March 18, 2009.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. John Walsh (R) on March 18, 2009, to exempt business tools and equipment ("personal property") from the property tax increases the bill would authorize. Note: Although passed, the amendment was not included in a subsequent substitute version of the bill that was adopted. The amendment passed by voice vote in the House on March 18, 2009.
    • Amendment offered by Rep. Kimberly Meltzer (R) on March 18, 2009, to require a school district to "ensure" that no public funds are used to pay for a campaign to pass a tax hike authorized by the bill. Note: Although passed, the amendment was not included in a subsequent substitute version of the bill that was adopted. The amendment passed by voice vote in the House on March 18, 2009.
    • Substitute offered by Rep. Tim Melton (D) on March 18, 2009, to adopt a substitute version of the bill that does not include (most) of the sinking fund limitations proposed by Republicans in committee or their floor amendments. This is a technigue used by the majority to "sweep away" minority floor amendments adopted on voice-votes. The substitute does limit the expanded sinking fund uses to buying or fixing school buses, and buying computers and software. It also requires a sinking fund election to be either on the May or November election days. The substitute passed by voice vote in the House on March 18, 2009.
    • Substitute offered by Rep. John Walsh (R) on March 24, 2009, to require the tax increase election to be held on either the regular August or November election days, rather than May or November. The substitute failed by voice vote in the House on March 24, 2009.
    • Substitute offered by Rep. Paul Opsommer (R) on March 24, 2009, to require the tax increase election to be held on either the regular August or November election days, rather than May or November. The substitute failed by voice vote in the House on March 24, 2009.
  2. Passed 74 to 35 in the House on March 24, 2009, to allow school districts to increase property taxes by to three mills for 10 years to buy or fix school buses, and to buy computers and software, with the money passing through a "sinking fund." Note: Since new operating expense millages were prohibited by the 1994 Proposal A initiative, and under most accounting rules these items are considered operating expenses, the bill may require a 3/4 majority vote, which is required by the Constitution for revisions of an initiative adopted by popular vote.
    Who Voted "Yes" and Who Voted "No"

  3. Received in the Senate on March 26, 2009.
    • Referred to the Senate Finance Committee on March 26, 2009.

Comments

Re: 2009 House Bill 4313 (Expand school “sinking fund” uses )  by Admin003 on March 24, 2009 

Rep. Agema, having reserved the right to explain his protest against the passage of the bill, made the following statement:


“Mr. Speaker and members of the House:



While I supported this last year, this year no amendments were allowed
to limit it’s use. My school districts were wise in their use; however,
others were not. Schools should not be bonding for long term issues. We
must not raise taxes in this economic environment. Also, it requires a
3/4 vote to pass this according to article 9, sec 3 and MCL380.1211.



Re: 2009 House Bill 4313 (Expand school “sinking fund” uses )  by jercommm on February 23, 2009 

This is no doubt the MEA slipping in the door.


They are good at that, not to mention taking more hard earned money from taxpayers anyway they can.



Re: 2009 House Bill 4313 (Expand school “sinking fund” uses )  by Krgenaw on February 22, 2009 

The Gov./schools will find a way, ANY way to use taxpayers $$ to pay for what they want .. when they want it. The schools have all these teachers - get creative - use the funds you have to teach... I know a homeschooler or 2 that could show you the ropes.



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