MAKING THE GRADE: What is Prop 1?

By Daily News • Last Updated 2:54 pm on Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Making the Grade | Janet Ralph

I am assuming that sometime recently many of you have received a mailing about Prop 1. This proposal will be on the ballot in the Aug. 5 Primary Election.

I don’t know about you, but I was completely unfamiliar with this proposal. And several people whom I know usually are on top of legislation were also unfamiliar with it. It is been my practice in this column to not take positions on legislation or issues. I prefer to inform readers of the facts as I understand them and allow individuals to make their own decisions. It is less important to me that you agree with me than that you are informed and involved in the process. That is what a democracy is about.

I will devote some space to this issue because it seems like an important one to me and I would like for readers to cast an informed vote on Aug. 5. I will share what I know or am able to find out. I also hope you will seek out the opinion of others. This proposal would have impact on more than the schools. It would also affect other local services like police, fire, ambulances, jails, roads and libraries.

Since I received this mailing, I have contacted the offices of Sen. Judy Emmons and Rep. Rick Outman and other organizations such as the Michigan Association of School Boards.  I have also touched base with a few small businessmen because the material I received says this proposal would help small businesses and our economy. I will continue to do that and share any findings that I feel would be helpful.

The mailing I received says Prop 1 would stabilize local communities, would not raise taxes or change the Constitution. However, it will not become law unless it is approved by the voters. So if this fails on Aug. 5, it cannot become law. We the voters have been given great power. In response, we have great responsibility. We often complain about what our representatives do, or do not do, in Lansing. This is our opportunity to make the decision.

The clearest explanation I have received about this proposal so far came from the Michigan Association of School Boards. They are in support of the proposal. This was their response about how it would affect schools.

• Prop 1 creates a guaranteed revenue stream for schools to replace lost revenue due to the PPT (Personal Property Tax) reductions.

• Creates an oversight entity that is made up of local government representatives so the legislature cannot undo what the voters decide.

• Stabilizes school funding that had been dependent, in part, on a PPT revenue stream that had been declining with a system tied to use tax which continues to grow.

We should all be interested in a proposal that it appears would have quite an impact on our own community. It is important that we make a good decision. I encourage you all to learn about Prop 1 before Aug. 5 so that you can cast an informed vote. I will help as I can to get accurate information to share.

Janet Ralph is president of the Greenville Public Schools Board of Education.

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