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Dear Friends:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and provide updates about what is going on at Michigan’s Capitol.

I am the state senator for the 18th District – covering all of Barry County and parts of Allegan, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent and Ionia counties. Please feel free to contact me with any issues related to state government at [email protected], or by calling 517-373-1734 (toll-free at 855-347-8018).


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Thomas Albert
State Senator

Better outcomes for Michigan students

The Legislature is working on the next state budget. These are important decisions that affect the lives of people across Michigan in countless ways. I am a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, with a strong emphasis on education budgets.

So far, I have voted against the education budgets proposed by legislative Democrats — because the plans need improvement. But I want to emphasize that there is some common ground and opportunities to work together as we continue with the budget process in the coming weeks.

To assist the process, I have introduced an alternative education budget plan that I believe would provide better outcomes for kids compared to what Democrats are proposing. Highlights of my plan include:

A K-12 per-pupil foundation allowance of $9,608, up 5% from the current year — matching the governor’s proposal.
Special education funding at 100% per student, which would follow through on my two-year plan started when I served in the House of Representatives. I am encouraged that the Senate proposal recognizes special education has been massively underfunded and commits to this full funding. The governor’s plan would fund special education at only 87.5% in the next fiscal year.
A further expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program by raising investments to $14,000 per child — helping providers hire staff and add capacity, so more kids can go to preschool. Alternatives proposed by Democrats for “universal preschool” are unrealistic and do not have a workable plan to support it.
More school safety funding — $286 million total for K-12 school safety grants, $150 million for universities and $50 million for community colleges. Funding for school resource officers at the K-12 level would be doubled — compared to plans from the governor and the Senate that remove state funding targeted only for school resource officers.
An additional $150 million for school-based mental health initiatives.
A $100 million investment in the “Grow Your Own” program that helps non-certified K-12 personnel become certified teachers, helping address a worsening shortage.
A $300 million commitment to help students receive more personalized instruction time and catch up on learning lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. This could include flexible tutoring, after-school and summer school initiatives.
A fairer funding plan for higher education — including a 2% operations increase for universities and a 4% increase for community colleges. Higher education institutions also would benefit from continued state assistance to pay off debt, which frees up additional resources for operations. My plan includes $620 million to reduce reliance on local community college districts — allowing community colleges to have one tuition rate for students regardless of where they live. This plan could potentially offer some property tax relief in some districts.

My plan is contained in Senate Bills 304, 305, 306 and 307. I will continue to fight for elements of this plan as the budget process moves forward. This plan is sustainable and leaves more than $2 billion unallocated on the balance sheet in case a recession hurts revenues, because we don’t want to have to cut school budgets if the economy continues to worsen.

Maintaining accountability in schools

I am also deeply concerned about legislation that weakens accountability and makes it more difficult to gauge how schools are performing. This week, I voted against House Bill 4166. The legislation would eliminate the report card-style assessment that gives schools a letter grade from A-F.

Parental involvement is critical to help kids succeed in school. The A-F school grading system is easy to understand for parents and taxpayers. It empowers them to make informed decisions about education in their community.

Eliminating this simple, straightforward transparency measure will make it more difficult to tell how well schools are educating our children. It is a massive step backward — at a time we can least afford it. Kids across the state are still behind because of instructional time lost during the COVD-19 pandemic. Student test scores in Michigan are slipping. It is time for more accountability in our schools — not less.

Honoring Lowell’s wrestling championship

It’s important to celebrate the success of students in all aspects of their lives. Recently I was honored to introduce the Lowell High School wrestling team to the Michigan Senate. Later, I presented a tribute to the team in the Capitol rotunda.

Coach R.J. Boudro and the Red Arrows have won 10 consecutive state championships. It’s a testament to the culture of success established within the program and certainly worthy of recognition statewide.

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ORV license and trail permit

It’s time to purchase 2023 ORV licenses and trail permits. Permits are valid for one year and provide access to 4,000 miles of state-designated ORV trails and scramble areas, eligible county, state or national forest roads and more.

The fees generated through ORV licenses and trail permits are reinvested back into the ORV system for trail expansion, grant funding for annual trail grooming, and infrastructure improvements.

ORV licenses and trail permits can be purchased online or in person at a number of DNR license agents and dealers.

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Weigh in on state land review recommendations

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is responsible for the care of approximately 4.6 million acres of public land.

In 2018, the Legislature approved a Managed Public Land Strategy, requiring the DNR to review approximately 240,000 acres of state-owned land to determine how the land fits into the DNR’s overall mission of “conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.” The parcels under review are either under 200 acres or land with an irregular boundary that may be difficult to manage.

The review will determine whether to keep, exchange or sell state-managed land and is being conducted on a county-by-county basis, 10 to 11 counties at a time. Cheboygan, Crawford, Eaton, Ingham, Jackson, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Muskegon, Osceola, Otsego, and Ottawa counties are currently under review.

An important element of the review process is public input. You can view the final classifications or submit comments or feedback for the group of counties using the DNR’s interactive map. Comments will be accepted through Wednesday, June 7.

For more information about the review process, visit the Natural Resources Commission website.

Michigan's 18th Senate District

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Senator Thomas A. Albert
4500 Connie B. Binsfeld Office Building
P.O. Box 30036
Lansing, MI 48909-7536

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