June 26, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Latest in Lansing: What You Need to Know

The state budget is ready for Governor Rick Snyder’s signature after the Michigan Senate approved the $56.7 billion budget Thursday before breaking for a summer recess.

The budget, which goes into effect October 1, shows an increase in overall spending by 2 percent from the 2016-2017 budget. We’re breaking down highlights from the budget in several areas, starting with education, which saw significant funding increases.


  • Increases for per-pupil funding ranging from $60 to $120, with the biggest increases going to the lowest-funded districts.

  • A $120 million increase in spending on at-risk students, that’s nearly a third more than the current levels. The budget also expands eligibility, allowing another 87,000 children to be considered eligible.

  • A new $25 payment to districts for each high school student, as it costs more to educate high schoolers than younger children.

  • Increased funding ranging from 1.6 percent to 2.7 percent at 15 state universities.

  • $4.9 million in funding to support an expansion of the Pathways to Potential program into more Michigan schools. The program is aimed at reducing absenteeism by placing caseworkers in schools to help families obtain community resources.

Child Care

  • Lawmakers increased the child development and care entry threshold from 125 percent to 130 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), using $5.5 million in federal funds.

  • Increased child care provider reimbursement rates to the federally-recommended 75th percentile of the market rate for the costs of child care in states.

CMF, authorized by our P-20 Education Affinity Group, board of trustees and Public Policy Committee, advocated for increasing the threshold to 150 percent of the FPL for child care subsidies and for increased child care provider reimbursement rates. CMF will continue to advocate for Michigan’s eligibility threshold to grow from 130 to 150 percent of the FPL to expand access for Michigan families.

Other highlights include:

  • The budget allots $35 million for the state’s infrastructure fund, an increase from the governor’s recommendation of $20 million.

  • $6.5 million less in operation costs funding for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

  • Continued funding for the Healthy Michigan Plan (HMP). As CMF has reported, HMP, which is available through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, provides health care coverage to about 649,000 low-income individuals between the ages of 19 and 64 in Michigan.

The budget was pushed through the House and Senate after lawmakers came to a deal with the governor about changing teacher pension plans.

The Associated Press reports that the state budget includes $255 million more to reduce $29 billion in unfunded liabilities in the Michigan Public School Retirees System and to transition new school employees into a new defined contribution plan “unless they pay for a costlier pension and assume more risk.”

The teacher/school employee retirement plan passed by lawmakers includes:

  • New teachers and school employees hired on or after February 1, 2018 must elect to join the new defined contribution (DC) plan, this is similar to a 401(k), or they can join the new hybrid plan. The Detroit Free Press reports, the new hybrid plan which is a mix of pension and defined contributions “would be costlier for the employee.” The report says the goal of the new program is to make the new DC plan “so attractive that new employees will automatically want to get into it,” instead of using the hybrid pension program.

  • In the new DC plan the employer would contribute 4 percent and up to a 3 percent match for a maximum of 7 percent.

  • Place all existing school employees into the new DC plan.

Opponents of the plan say that it will hurt our state’s teachers by weakening their retirement plans and discourage new teachers and staff from entering our education system. 

The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) released a statement saying in part, “Michigan should be doing all it can to keep top teaching talent in the state and in the classroom. Our state’s dismal national ranking in education—41st—is because of underfunding education and other harmful policies, and we clearly need to put more emphasis on improving Michigan schools.”

The Detroit Free Press reports that lawmakers who were in support of the hybrid pension plan said the move would free up money, allowing funding to go into the infrastructure fund, rainy day fund and pension debt payments.

Both the state budget and the teacher retirement plan are headed to Snyder for his signature.

In other legislative news, CMF is pleased that the legislature reached an agreement last week on advancing legislation to the governor for the projects recommended by the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board and did not include in the bill the 43 projects added in the original Senate version.

This agreement respects the process of the Natural Resources Trust Fund approved by the voters of Michigan and allows projects supporting diverse recreation needs statewide to proceed – many of which are also supported by CMF members. 






Great Lake Gets New Action Plan

Our Great Lakes are key to our tourism economy, especially now during the summer months and they’re a drinking water source for 30 million people, are we doing all that we can to protect them for the future?

We’re getting a look at a draft of Michigan’s plan to work towards achieving a healthier ecosystem, the draft of the Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan calls for changes to improve conditions and reduce harmful algal blooms by 2025.

Michigan’s plan, developed by several state departments, is part of a joint effort from Lake Erie basin states, the U.S. and Canada.

It’s been almost three years since Toledo’s water supply was deemed harmful due to algal blooms in Lake Erie. That incident led to a closer examination of what we’re putting into our Great Lakes.

While there’s been efforts to address it, the state says more work needs to be done. The state’s plan says satellite imagery monitors the conditions along the shoreline in Lake Erie and in 2016 the area showed an excessive amount of algal blooms, “indicating ecological imbalance.”

That’s significant because Lake Erie, like the other Great Lakes are integral to the economy, livelihood and health of our lakeshore cities and towns.

Fast facts about the Great Lakes:

The state is calling on expanded partnerships across sectors to ensure we protect our lakes, public health and our economy by reducing runoff from farms, wastewater treatment plants and other areas to reduce the levels of phosphorus (which contributes to the growth of algal blooms) reaching Lake Erie by 40 percent by 2025.

Highlights of the action plan’s recommendations include:

  • Invest in ongoing research.

  • Improve and increase public outreach about good conservation practices through targeted campaigns, workshops and learning opportunities.

  • Provide technical and financial assistance to farmers to address the fertilizer runoff coming from their lands, the plan says this would be particularly helpful in rural communities.

  • Promote wetland restoration and land management

CMF does have members working in some of these areas, including the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation which supports many projects and initiatives to improve the water quality in the Great Lakes.

Earlier this month, the Great Lakes Commission announced they’re accepting proposals for green infrastructure grants for small communities that will help them improve their water quality and better manage stormwater, through support from the Erb Family Foundation.

While the Erb Family Foundation focuses on watersheds in metro Detroit, Bayfield and Ontario, there’s several areas targeted in the report which include the Detroit River, the River Raisin, Maumee River, Wayne County Downriver Wastewater Treatment Facility and the Ypsilanti Community Utility Authority Wastewater Treatment Plant, to name a few.

Freshwater Future, a nonprofit in Petoskey, which provided recommendations to the federal government last year on how to best protect Lake Erie, says the state’s plan “doesn’t go far enough” and “lacks specifics.”

The state is taking public comment on the action plan until July 14. If you’re interested, public comments can be emailed or mailed to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Once the plan is finalized, Michigan’s Domestic Action Plan along with Lake Erie plans from Indiana, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania will be integrated into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) comprehensive plan that will be released in early 2018.

Want more?

Check out the state’s draft of the Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan.

Join the Green and Blue Network at their summer event on July 21: Turning Michigan’s Rivers Into Economic and Community Building Engines.

Connect with the Green and Blue Network.






More Than Kids Play

This week there’s a big unveiling planned in Hamtramck on the “State of Play” in Southeast Michigan.

On Wednesday, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJF) will join The Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program for a State of Play press conference. The organizations will share a snapshot of the current trends among kids in the region when it comes to being active, and the launch of community conversations to find ways to give all kids the opportunity to engage in sports.

The Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program has provided comprehensive research about the barriers facing children, especially those in low-income families, to playing sports and living healthy, active lives.

Last year, the State of Play report revealed kids ages 6 to 12 who were active to a “healthy level and beyond,” which means high-calorie burning activities, has continued to fall the past few years, down to 26.6 percent in 2015.

When it comes to who’s playing and who’s not, the research showed family income had the biggest impact, with only one in five children from homes with an income of less than $25,000 engaged in active and healthy level and beyond activities.

While sports and active play can build confidence, the report shows that they can also save medical costs. If 50 percent of youth met the active and healthy levels of activity, it’s estimated $20 billion would be saved in direct medical costs.

RCWJF was recently highlighted for providing support to sports and childhood development initiatives, including PlayWorks, a national nonprofit organization, supported by several CMF members, that ensures kids in low-income communities have opportunities for safe, inclusive and active play at school.

The nonprofit provides coaches and training to schools to facilitate play at recess and to make sure kids all feel welcome and involved.

PlayWorks is involved in nearly 30 Michigan schools, most are in Southeast Michigan, but there’s one in Lansing and two in Northern Michigan in both Boon Township and Cadillac.

What they’re discovering at Michigan schools following the implementation of PlayWorks:

  • 79 percent of school staff reported fewer disruptions in class.

  • 85 percent of school staff reported fewer incidents of bullying at school.

  • 95 percent of school staff say they saw more cooperation among students at recess.

  • 96 percent of school staff saw increased levels of participation in academic activities in class.

These are all positive trends that demonstrate how physical activity in a safe and encouraging environment can help foster childhood development, academic success and create social bonds among children.

We’ll experience PlayWorks’ active play strategies first-hand as they will lead some activities during Our Common Future conference, sponsored by CMF, Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and Independent Sector (IS) in October in Detroit.

CMF will share what we learn from CFSEM and RCWJF’s State of Play this week, as they continue to work to increase opportunities for kids to engage in positive and healthy activities.

Want more?

Read State of Play 2016.

Learn more about PlayWorks in Michigan.






New details released about Our Common Future conference in October

This year, CMF’s Annual Conference will be a joint conference through a partnership with Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and Independent Sector (IS). Our Common Future conference will be this year’s most crucial gathering of changemakers bent on making the world a better place. It’s all happening October 25-27 in Detroit.

The conference will feature designated time for discussion and programming with your Michigan colleagues, as well as joint sessions with national foundations and partners to share learnings and work to align and maximize impact.

We will hear from headline leaders interviewed by headline journalists, experience the innovation and spirit of the Motor City like never before, immerse in the local arts as they’ve proven to be agents of social change and get a deeper understanding of work happening in Michigan and across the country on how we can build tomorrow, together.

We will take a deep dive into the vibrant arts and culture scene in Detroit with a retrospective look at the city’s history through the nationally heralded Detroit 67 exhibit, which commemorates 50 years since the tumultuous summer of 1967.

We’re kicking off conference with CMF members-only meetings, where you can join your fellow community/family/corporate/public charities/independent foundation members in small groups to discuss topics important to your work.

CMF’s affinity groups are also shaping 10 breakout sessions for conference, around topics of equity, economic growth, education, health and creating paths to prosperity for all Michiganders.

This year, family foundations can also take a deeper dive in a track of family foundation programming that will share interactive experiences and best practices around legal issues, developing authentic grantee relationships, aligning family values in grantmaking and more.

Join your Michigan colleagues for three days of connecting, learning opportunities and getting involved in the national conversation taking place in Detroit.

Want more?

Check out the conference schedule.

We’re adding new speakers to the lineup every day, check out our growing list.

Register for Our Common Future today!


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