The goal of Michigan’s tough high school graduation requirements was to ensure all graduates were ready for college, enabling them to compete for jobs in the new global economy.
But education is not a one-size-fits-all business. Each child is different, and I have introduced reform to give students more choices and allow them to prepare for rewarding careers.
Senate Bill 66 would allow students to count additional career and technical education courses toward meeting the state’s high school graduation requirements.
I support a rigorous education that prepares children for success in college and beyond, but college may not be for everyone. My reform is about ensuring our schools are about getting students ready for a career, not just ready for college.
We have achieved much to bring more jobs to our state, but many manufacturers are finding it difficult to find young workers with the required technical skills.
In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder called for increased skilled trades training to help meet these workforce needs.
I agree with the governor that we must train students for all careers. We need to prepare the next generation of teachers, doctors and engineers.
However, we also need to train workers for careers in technical and manufacturing positions – jobs that already exist and are available in Southwest Michigan.
Flexibility in Michigan’s high school curriculum will give all our students a chance to succeed by letting them sit down with their parents and teachers and choose the educational path that best uses their talents, meets their goals and prepares them for a valuable and fulfilling career.
State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, has sponsored legislation to allow options for students to count additional career and technical education, or CTE, courses toward meeting the state’s high school graduation requirements.
Senate Bill 66 would revise the state’s high school graduation requirements to allow seven credits to be filled either through the current route or through CTE courses, which would include work-based learning by a student such as an internship or apprenticeship.
In a news release, Proos noted he introduced his bill as Gov. Rick Snyder in his State of the State address called for increased skilled trades training to help meet the work force needs of manufacturers.
“I support a rigorous education that prepares our children for success in college and beyond, but we must also acknowledge that college may not be for everyone,” Proos said. “This is about ensuring our schools are about getting students ready for a career, not just ready for college.
“Education is not a one-size-fits-all business. Each child is different, and I am introducing this reform to give our students more choices and flexibility and allow them to prepare for the jobs that exist in our state.”
SB 66 was turned in on Wednesday and will be formally introduced in the Michigan Senate and referred to a committee this Wednesday, the next session day.
The Senate has approved legislation to help spur vehicle and boat sales by reducing the cost of purchasing a new or used vehicle or boat in Michigan.
Currently, when someone buys a new or used automobile or watercraft in Michigan, the state’s 6 percent sales tax is applied to the full sales price, even if the sale included a trade-in.
Under Senate Bills 126-127, the state tax would only be applied to the difference between the price of a new car or boat and the value of a trade-in. The relief would phase-in over six years. Once fully implemented, if a used car valued at $5,000 is traded in and the owner applies the trade-in value toward purchasing a $25,000 car, the sales tax only applies to the $20,000 difference.
I strongly supported these reforms because they will help consumers save money and help Southwest Michigan auto and boat dealers compete with out-of-state sellers.
Michigan is one of only six states – and the only Great Lakes state – that taxes the value of a vehicle being traded in during a purchase. This puts Michigan businesses at a competitive disadvantage and costs our consumers more in extra taxes.
“Michigan consumers are essentially being double taxed when theypurchase a new watercraft with a trade-in,” said Bob Myers of Pier 1000 Marina in Benton Harbor. “This legislation would help the Southwest Michigan boating industry compete with retailers from across the border, which is a major concern for a company like ours.”
The current law is a clear illustration of how bad tax policy can negatively impact job providers and consumers.
Making this smart reform could help our local economy while also saving consumers millions of dollars.
Life in Balance President Alex Markovich would like to see Michigan enact direct access to physical therapy, which 47 states already have, he told state Sen. John Proos Monday.
Life in Balance Physical Therapy President Alex Markovich Monday morning coached state Sen. John Proos in Pilates. Life in Balance, 20 North Second Street, has been in Niles for 12 years and added locations in Mishawaka and South Bend.
“There would be so many opportunities to save money through prevention and serve our community where our hands are tied,” Markovich said. “Even a massage therapist with a six-month certificate can see people off the street and I can’t with a master’s degree. I wanted to make you aware of the financial burden lack of direct access puts. We have to have a doctor referral.”
Patients are seen for 80 minutes at an initial evaluation, then 40 minutes at every session after that.
“Physical therapy winds up saving money,” Markovich said.
Without direct access, someone with lower back pain sees a doctor, which might take a week to arrange for an eight-minute exam, resulting in a prescription for medication.
There might be another appointment or two for tests.
“Weeks go by without any relief,” Markovich said, “and now it’s a chronic issue when they start physical therapy. Why don’t we do physical therapy first? Because there’s a perceived threat of this up-and-coming, evolving field getting into an arena of new territory. You’ve got to look at what’s best for the customer and who’s paying the bills. There are no studies showing direct access increases health industry costs or malpractice in states that have it. We are trained to assess the musculoskeletal system but need to be empowered.”
Proos, R-St. Joseph, asked how the Supreme Court imminent decision on the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, would impact Life in Balance.
“Something needs to be done, obviously,” Markovich said. “It’s a tragedy when people live in fear for their health care benefits. But the way this bill was pushed through with the economy the way it is scares me. The government can’t even pay its light bill. I don’t buy the savings. It seems short-sighted and very politically driven by the president. I don’t think it’s constitutional to require someone to buy (health insurance). However, Medicare and the commercial insurance industry are making positive changes in prevention and incentivizing quality of care.”
“Reimbursement based on results and quality is the way to go,” he said. “I’d like to create a system which reduces cost first before we add to the system and make it harder to manage. The public is fed up and paying attention.”
“The best way to save money is to never spend it in the first place,” Proos said.
State Senator John Proos says that a change to the way that Michigan collects sales taxes on vehicle sales could help the economy. Recently, the Senate approved the plan to stop applying the six percent sales tax to the full value of a new or used vehicle purchase. Instead, the sales or use tax would be applied only to the difference between the price of the car or boat being bought, and the value of a trade in. Proos says that implementing this change would be relief for those making such a transaction.
The measures, known as the “sales tax on the difference” bills, have been praised by dealers who sell cars, trucks and watercraft. The legislation has been sent to the State House for consideration.
While 97 percent of Americans go online to find products and services, nearly 60 percent of Michigan businesses do not have a website.
This puts our locally owned companies at an enormous competitive disadvantage, resulting in lost business and lost jobs.
I encourage all Southwest Michigan job providers who do not have an internet presence to take advantage of a free program to give companies all the necessary tools to get started, including complimentary website hosting, designing and training.
Michigan Get Your Business Online is a no-cost initiative to increase the number of small businesses in the state using the internet to grow their business. It is led by Google with numerous business groups as partners, including Southwest Michigan First and comes at no cost to taxpayers.
To learn more about the program or to get your free website, please visit the program’s website at www.michigangetonline.com.
In addition to a professional website and a year of web hosting at no cost, the program is offering free events where entrepreneurs can get one-on-one advice and learn about online marketing.
The Internet can be intimidating for many people and these events are designed to help job providers through the process and set them up for success. This is an excellent, free opportunity to reach out to new customers by getting your business online.
In my first three months as your state senator, my focus has been creating long-term jobs by improving our state’s business climate.
The old strategy of job creation through government programs has failed. Michigan needs a better plan.
I am working to encourage small businesses and entrepreneurs to create jobs by getting government out of their way. More freedom and fewer burdens mean increased opportunities and more jobs.
Recognizing the impact regulations can have our economy, I voted for a new law preventing unelected bureaucrats from imposing unnecessary burdens on jobs providers.
I also support a Senate Republican initiative to help put people back to work by cutting red tape throughout all state departments. One reform would require state agencies to look at the potential impact of a rule on small businesses, which create more than 70 percent of Michigan jobs.
It’s time to make Michigan open for business. That is why I was the first co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1 to repeal the Michigan Business Tax. Since the tax was adopted, it has been a barrier to job creation. I am working on reforming our tax code to make our state business-friendly, so we can retain our current job providers and attract new ones to the state.
I will continue my efforts to help reinvent Michigan and put our state on the road to economic revitalization.
That is the only way to ensure we have the good, long-term jobs that will revitalize our state’s economy and allow enable future generations to live, work and thrive in southwest Michigan.