Michigan House Speaker has end-of-session goals

Dillon seeks to ease school aid cuts, ban workplace tobacco before session ends

Lansing — Finding money to soften school aid cuts, enacting education reforms to lure federal dollars and finally passing a workplace smoking ban are the top items on House Speaker Andy Dillon’s to-do list before the end of the year.

The Redford Township Democrat said in an interview Friday with The Detroit News he doesn’t want to wait until January or February to mitigate the $292 per pupil reductions in school aid because it would be too late for many local districts.

“We need to find some short-term, targeted revenues for schools (this month).”

The Legislature is scheduled to end its session Dec. 17.



The Senate has passed a freeze in the earned income tax credit for the working poor to restore some of the public school money. Dillon said he’d prefer a tax boost on noncigarette tobacco products and a one-year pause in the scheduled inflationary increase in the personal exemption from the state income tax.

Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said “we’re not going to reinvent the wheel” on replacement revenue for school aid. “We already sent them the earned income tax credit freeze,” he said.

The speaker said he’s sympathetic to the tourism industry’s objection to a proposal in the reform package to take off the books a law that says school must start after Labor Day. He said the state should not be telling local districts when they can begin the school year.

“We need to let schools start before Labor Day. We don’t want to get in the way of districts that want to go year ’round,” he said.

Finally, the speaker said he’s hopeful the Legislature can pass a public smoking prohibition this month, breaking a long-standing impasse.

The Senate has insisted on an across-the-board ban while the House has made exceptions for the three Detroit casinos. One proposal in the Senate is a compromise bill that would bar smoking on half the casino floor and in casino hotels and restaurants. Dillon said that plan has some promise.

Marsden said if the smoking ban comes up next week in the Senate, as some predict, “I expect the majority leader will stay consistent on it — a full ban.”

source: http://www.detnews.com

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