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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

State budget plan hinges on raiding teacher retirement fund

The process of adopting a new annual state budget typically takes several months. Gov. Whitmer made her initial recommendations in February, and now the House and the Senate are working on their own proposals.

A massive part of the Democrats’ plan to continue excessive state spending relies on pulling $670 million out of the teacher retirement fund and spending it on current or new programs within the state’s K-12 budget. I believe their plan is an attempt to skirt a state law I sponsored in 2018, designed to ensure that we stay on schedule with the plan to eliminate debt in the teacher retirement system by 2038.

The more quickly debt is paid off, the less it costs taxpayers – overall and in the long run – because interest costs are reduced. It is the same principle that applies to your mortgage, credit card or car payment. If you opt to pay less now, you will pay significantly more later.

We must stay on schedule paying off debt to avoid raising future costs for taxpayers and to ensure teachers receive the benefits they have been promised in retirement. Last year, we paid 32 cents of every state restricted school aid dollar on retirement costs. If this state law is skirted, our kids will have even fewer resources for their education in the future.

State government watchdog must be fully funded

Gov. Whitmer has proposed cutting $8.3 million from the Office of the Auditor General, an independent and nonpartisan agency that monitors state government. Essentially, the governor wants to slash funding to a watchdog that helps hold her and all of state government accountable.

In recent years, the auditor general has identified additional COVID nursing home deaths, uncovered fraud within the unemployment system, and detected many other instances where state government has misused funds. The agency helps identify problems so they can be corrected and avoided in the future.

I oppose the governor’s plan to reduce funding for this agency. We must operate government in a transparent manner, and the auditor general helps do this.

Office hours scheduled for Kent and Ionia counties

I plan to host local office hours on Friday, April 26, at two locations:

• 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Biggby Coffee, 11826 Fulton St. E. in Lowell.
• 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Lake Odessa Community Library, 1007 Fourth Ave. in Lake Odessa.

Office hours are open to district residents to talk about issues related to state government or to request assistance with a state issue. No appointment is necessary, but space may be limited at some locations. Priority will be given to constituents seeking to discuss issues requiring privacy or individual attention.

Office hours in other 18th District locations will be scheduled at a later date.

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Kindergarten proposal does not address real problems

One of my biggest frustrations as a state lawmaker is when government creates mandates in the name of addressing problems that don’t really exist. It’s a waste of resources and often leads to unforeseen consequences. Worse, it leaves real problems unsolved.

That is happening in the Michigan Legislature with a proposal that would mandate that children who are 5 years old by Sept. 1 of the relevant academic year be enrolled in kindergarten or notify their public school district that they intend to delay enrollment for a year. This notification requirement would also apply to private school and homeschool families. I believe these family decisions are none of the state’s business.

I absolutely agree that kids should start the K-12 portion of their education in kindergarten. But that is already happening, so a state mandate is pointless. I voted against Senate Bill 285 because it doesn’t address the real issues of chronic absenteeism and poor academic performance.

Public school data available on new site

The School Aid Act requires the Michigan Department of Education to provide the public with student growth metrics for every Michigan district and school level by grade and subject.

The new MI-EVAAS public-facing website, launched on March 27, offers reports for each district and school in Michigan. The focus of the data is student academic growth over time, allowing users to compare schools and districts in categories such as grade level or subject matter.

EVAAS is a tool provided to districts by MDE. This tool helps educators identify best practices, implement programs that best meet the needs of their students, and make informed decisions about where to focus resources.

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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