2017 STATEWIDE ADVOCACY AGENDA
TRANSFERRING COLLEGE CREDITS
By the year 2020, economists project that 65% of jobs will require some college credit. Unfortunately, only 37% of working-age adults in Michigan have at least an associate’s degree. Bridging this skills gap will require the most efficient use of our higher education system. Unfortunately, the state’s current system for informing students whether college credits will transfer is old and fails to consider how individual courses fit into a student’s path. With a small investment, Michigan can provide students with a system that will ensure better use of educational resources for students, families, and the state as a whole.
Michigan’s 28 public community colleges are committed to providing students with an affordable, high-quality education. Colleges recognize that in order to meet employer demand for a skilled, modern workforce, the state must ensure cost does not become a barrier to college access. Michigan should continue to invest in community colleges and maintain the state’s commitment to paying down retirement system debt. In addition, Michigan should build on the state’s successful history of investing in equipment that allows colleges to offer highly technological programs in in-demand fields.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE INFRASTRUCTURE
Community colleges really became an option for most Michigan students in the 1950’s and 1960’s – and it shows. While the state has been a key partner in updating Michigan’s community college infrastructure over the years, more recently the capital outlay process has not kept up with the need for change. Michigan should take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates by supporting capital outlay projects that will allow community colleges to provide quality educational facilities and programs to their students.
TAX INCREMENT FINANCING
Community colleges recognize the importance of collaborating with other local governments to facilitate projects that enhance the entire region. However, local property taxes represent a significant portion of the funding community college districts rely on to keep tuition and fees low. Michigan community colleges support legislation giving college districts increased control over whether tax funds authorized for community colleges may be captured for other purposes.
FAIR PROPERTY TAX VALUES
Property taxes make up one-third of community colleges revenues in Michigan – but this system of supporting our public institutions only works if everyone pays their fair share. In recent years, some property owners have used the so-called “dark store” strategy to limit their tax assessments, which not only allows those businesses to shirk their support for local services, but grants them at an unfair competitive advantage. Michigan should pass legislation providing guidance to the state’s Tax Tribunal that would ensure fair commercial valuations across the state.