State Senator John Proos Talks Education Funding

WKZO – Radio

Roeders ClassThe Michigan legislature may be currently in session, but lawmakers are also traveling around their districts preparing for the November elections. State Senator John Proos says he’s noticed that, as the campaigns heat up, the issue of education funding seems to be the one that everyone’s talking about the most. He told WKZO that state lawmakers have, in fact, been investing in education over the past couple of years, despite what some claim.

“If you just look at the numbers for spending in Michigan, we were spending about 12.1 billion dollars on K through 12 education in 2010,” Proos told WKZO. “Today, since 2010, we are now at 13.1 billion dollars in education.”

Proos said that doesn’t sound to him like education spending in Michigan has been cut, adding that education accounts for nearly half of the state’s budget.

Proos notes that there are a few things the legislature’s managed to get done ahead of taking a break for the elections. He points to a bill that would let patients of terminal illnesses in Michigan try experimental treatments, as well as a recent slew of bills on human trafficking, as matters that have been addressed in just the past week.

Senator Proos: Roadwork Funding a Priority

WSJM – Radio

Michael Arney Reporting

State lawmakers remain on break until early next week, and are getting the chance to get back out in the communities where they serve. State Senator John Proos joined WSJM’s Pat Moody Tuesday morning and tells us a lot of work remains before the end of the year in Lansing.

Governor Snyder had proposed doubling fees for vehicle registrations to pay for roadwork, with that idea going nowhere. Proos has floated the idea of passing a law to ensure the money paid in fuel taxes goes where it was intended, which is roadwork.

Proos: $440 Million Surplus “Great News”

WSJM – Radio

Jason Scott Reporting

Fiscal experts report revenues are exceeding projections, putting the state of Michigan in the black by $440-million. State Senator John Proos says this is great news, but also asks “where should the state spend it?”

Proos says the better than expected revenue number means efforts to revitalize Michigan are working, and the state remains fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.

Balanced Budget Amendment is Simple Common Sense

ChamberThe national debt is $17.1 trillion, or more than $54,000 per person. It is increasing by more than $2.6 billion per day and is expected to equal the country’s total annual economic output in 25 years.

Yet, even with America facing a $750 billion deficit in 2014, the federal government shut down this year because Washington leaders refused to stop spending money we don’t have.

That is why the Michigan Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution V to officially petition Congress to take the necessary steps toward passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Nineteen states have already approved the resolution. Once adopted by 15 more states, it becomes binding on Congress.

A balanced budget amendment would force Congress to cut up the national credit card, spend tax dollars more efficiently and hopefully begin reducing the nation’s debt burden.

I co-sponsored the resolution because it’s about time the federal government did what Southwest Michigan families and job providers do every month: live within their means. Michigan has a balanced budget because we followed the example of our families and made the tough choices needed to make ends meet; so should Congress.

Another way for Michigan to ensure fiscal responsibility would be to implement a two-year state budget.

I sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 to have us do two-year budgeting because it gives schools and local governments the budgetary certainty they need and allows lawmakers to focus more time on improving the economy and reducing spending.

In the end, both these measures are about putting some common sense into federal and state budgeting.

Proos Votes for Federal Balanced Budget Amendment

ChamberWKZO – Radio

The Michigan Senate last week voted in favor of a resolution calling on Congress to hold a constitutional convention to introduce a new balanced budget amendment. 19 other state legislatures have made such a call so far, and if 15 more hold such a vote, then Congress would have to act.

State Senator John Proos says it only makes sense that there be a mandate for a balanced budget. He says that the average household has to budget itself responsibly, so why not the federal government?

The resolution now heads to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration. Critics of a balanced budget amendment say that it would be practically impossible to follow, and tie the government’s hands in times of trouble.

State Tax Dollars Should Stay in Michigan to Support Michigan Jobs

WorkersMichigan spends more than $30 billion annually on goods and services, and using state businesses to meet our needs can improve efficient use of taxpayer dollars, boost our economy and create jobs.

That is why I co-sponsored a bill to give Michigan businesses a priority for state contracts when possible.

It’s a way to thank those who stuck it out during tough times. Most importantly, it simply makes sense.

Senate Bill 517 mirrors the “Buy Indiana Initiative” that gave a preference of up to 5 percent to Indiana-based businesses.

As we work hard to continue Michigan’s turnaround, we must support our home team. Michigan-based businesses and the workers they employ pay taxes help that support vital services like education and public safety.

We owe it to all Michigan residents that we remain responsible and efficient with their tax dollars. That includes ensuring our Michigan tax dollars first go to support Michigan companies and Michigan jobs.

The 2013 Pure Michigan Travel Guide illustrates the need for a state preference. An Iowa firm won the contract to put together the guide’s three seasonal issues, even though a Michigan-based company’s bid was $300,000 less.

I strongly support Pure Michigan because it helps attract jobs and tourists to our state. That’s why I’m so disappointed that a Michigan company and its workers were not picked to design the state’s travel guide when their bid would have actually saved the state money.

Many businesses and organizations have pledged to Buy Michigan. The state should do the same.

Van Buren County Gets Grant For Swift and Sure

Law Enforcement Endorsement PicWSJM – Radio

Jason Scott Reporting

The Swift and Sure Probation Program is expanding. State Senator John Proos says Van Buren County has accepted a $250,000 grant to set it up, making it the third county in Southwest Michigan to establish the cost-saving program.

Berrien County has had the program for three years. Since its inception positive drug tests have fallen by 70%. Cass County received over $280,000 to establish a similar system back in February.

Honored to be Named Legislator of the Year by Michigan Police Chiefs

Proos_Leg. of the YearThroughout my time in public service, I have worked to improve Michigan’s economy, create jobs and ensure our government fulfills its core function of keeping our families safe.

As a father, I take my responsibility to heart. That is why I was especially honored to be named Legislator of the Year by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP).

Berrien Springs chief of police Milt Agay presented me with the honor in recognition of my cooperative work with law enforcement agencies and my leadership on key public safety issues, including enactment of the Swift and Sure program and increased supervision of parolees.

I sponsored Senate Bill 1315 to give police officers the authority, already given to parole officers, to search any of the more than 18,000 parolees in Michigan at any time and without first needing to get a warrant. The new law enables our police to help provide more supervision of parolees and enhanced protection of our communities while also reducing the costs of the state prison system.

I also brought to Michigan a successful program that helped significantly reduce crime and drug use by probationers in Hawaii, saving the state millions of dollars.

Michigan’s Swift and Sure program supervises high-risk probationers and requires frequent, random drug and alcohol testing. The results are better outcomes for both the offender and the taxpayer. After seeing the positive results of the program in places like Berrien County, I worked to make the pilot program permanent.

While it is an honor to be recognized by the men and women leading our local police departments, the real reward is a safe neighborhood to raise my children.

Bill Would Let the Voters Decide About a Part-Time Legislature

ChamberAs we look to support key priorities while balancing our state budget, I think it is unfair to ask residents to do more with less and not have lawmakers take a serious look at going to a part-time legislature.

Having Michigan join the other 40 states with part-time legislatures would save taxpayer dollars and shrink the overall size of government.

I recently introduced a proposal in the Senate that would let voters decide whether the legislature should become part-time, working no more than 90 days per year.

Although our legislature averages 110 session days a year, I know we can get our work done in much less time. In 2012, we accomplished much to help protect our communities and improve our economy while only meeting for 81 session days.

Most importantly, changing to a part-time legislature could potentially save the state millions of dollars every year. Michigan legislators make an average of $72,600 a year – for a total of $10.7 million annually. By comparison, Indiana’s part-time legislators are paid less than $23,000 per year with a $152 per diem for each session day.

I know that it would probably be a significant challenge to balance the duties as your senator and the workload of a separate career, but if lawmakers in most of the other states have managed to do it, so can we.

This is a reform that makes good common sense.

We are looking for budget savings and solutions to problems on a daily basis, and my plan could result in millions of dollars in savings by giving Michigan voters the ability to decide for themselves what sort of state government they want.

Expanded Program Helping Reduce Prison Costs While Protecting Public

Law Enforcement Endorsement PicMichigan spends too much on its prison system, especially when compared to neighboring states.

In an ongoing effort to reduce our costs without jeopardizing public safety, I created the Swift and Sure Sanctions Program based on a Hawaiian program with a record of reducing crime and drug use by probationers and saving taxpayer dollars.

Probationers in Hawaii’s HOPE program were less likely to use drugs, be arrested for a new crime, skip appointments with their supervisory officer or have their probation revoked. The result was they also served or were sentenced to almost half the number of days in prison. I included the program in the Fiscal Year 2012 state budget as a pilot project for areas with combined courts or drug courts.

In the current FY 2013 budget, I expanded it to allow more counties to apply, and in January the governor signed my legislation to make the pilot program permanent.

I am pleased to announce that 11 counties are now participating in the program, up from only four counties in 2011-12. In Southwest Michigan, Cass and Kalamazoo counties have joined Berrien County with Swift and Sure programs.

This progress is great news for taxpayers, because it is estimated that the program could save Michigan taxpayers $25 million every year once expanded statewide.

The Swift and Sure program supervises high-risk probationers and requires frequent, random drug and alcohol testing so that treatment decisions are based on behavior.

It is a system that helps offenders return to productive lives, keeps our communities safe and costs less money – enabling us to focus our resources on other key priorities.