Booher calls for more transparency in college tuition

LANSING—State Sen. Darwin Booher introduced legislation that would require community colleges and universities to post online the total amount of tuition dollars received from students and how many of those dollars are used to provide financial assistance to other students.

“It is not a secret that the cost of higher education continues to rise,” said Booher, R-Evart. “However, what might not be known is that the money a student or parents pay for an education is often helping pay for another student’s education. 

“The Constitution provides universities with flexibility on how tuition dollars can be spent, so they can decide to reduce the amount or even stop spending tuition in this manner.  While the Legislature cannot prohibit the spending on certain things without changing the Constitution, we can require that the use of tuition dollars be more transparent and easily accessible. This legislation accomplishes just that.”

Senate Bill 559 would require a community college and university to post on the institution’s website any tuition dollars it receives from one student to provide grants, scholarships, work-study programs, or loans to other students.

Depending on the community college or university, the use of tuition dollars for other students ranges from 0 to 26 percent.

“The governor has recently been discussing the need to address the cost of higher education,” Booher said.  “Steps need to be taken to address the rising cost, but we also need to make sure parents and students know how their tuition dollars are currently being used.  Many students and their families have to get loans to afford college—to be paying back debt for their own education is one thing, but to be paying off debt for other students adds a new twist to the discussions on tuition. 

“I doubt many students realize that up to 26 cents of every dollar they pay is going toward other students, when other funds could be used instead, such as university endowments.”

For Fiscal Year 2010-11, university endowment funds totaled more than $10.4 billion, with the University of Michigan Ann Arbor alone having $7.7 billion.

SB 559 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

 

Booher calls for more transparency in college tuition

LANSING—State Sen. Darwin Booher introduced legislation that would require community colleges and universities to post online the total amount of tuition dollars received from students and how many of those dollars are used to provide financial assistance to other students.

“It is not a secret that the cost of higher education continues to rise,” said Booher, R-Evart. “However, what might not be known is that the money a student or parents pay for an education is often helping pay for another student’s education. 

“The Constitution provides universities with flexibility on how tuition dollars can be spent, so they can decide to reduce the amount or even stop spending tuition in this manner.  While the Legislature cannot prohibit the spending on certain things without changing the Constitution, we can require that the use of tuition dollars be more transparent and easily accessible. This legislation accomplishes just that.”

Senate Bill 559 would require a community college and university to post on the institution’s website any tuition dollars it receives from one student to provide grants, scholarships, work-study programs, or loans to other students.

Depending on the community college or university, the use of tuition dollars for other students ranges from 0 to 26 percent.

“The governor has recently been discussing the need to address the cost of higher education,” Booher said.  “Steps need to be taken to address the rising cost, but we also need to make sure parents and students know how their tuition dollars are currently being used.  Many students and their families have to get loans to afford college—to be paying back debt for their own education is one thing, but to be paying off debt for other students adds a new twist to the discussions on tuition. 

“I doubt many students realize that up to 26 cents of every dollar they pay is going toward other students, when other funds could be used instead, such as university endowments.”

For Fiscal Year 2010-11, university endowment funds totaled more than $10.4 billion, with the University of Michigan Ann Arbor alone having $7.7 billion.

SB 559 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

 

Senate approves Booher bill banning sex offender loitering near day care centers

LANSING?Sen. Darwin Booher’s legislation to stop child sex offenders from hanging around day care centers was unanimously approved by the Michigan Senate on Wednesday.

“When Michigan parents drop off their children at a day care center, they expect that it is a place where their children can have fun and play — safe from sexual predators,” said Booher, R-Evart. “Michigan law helps prevent sex offenders from repeating their criminal sexual acts through safety restrictions, such as banning violators from loitering within a student safety zone.

“This legislation is about taking the current protections for our students at school and extending them to protect children at day care centers.”

Senate Bill 76 would amend the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) to prohibit sex offenders from loitering within 1,000 feet of a licensed child care center. 

“We owe it to each Michigan child to take every precaution possible to protect him or her from sexual predators,” Booher said. “By approving this legislation, the Senate said loud and clear to sex offenders: stay away from our kids and stop hanging around day care centers.” 

SB 77 would establish sentencing guidelines. Under the bill, a first-time violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of not more than $1,000 or both. Violators with one or more prior SORA convictions would be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than two years, a fine of up to $2,000 or both.

SB 76 would allow for exceptions only for parents who are transporting their own children to school or day care or are going to the school or day care center for the purpose of meeting with an employee regarding his or her child’s enrollment.

The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Senate OKs bill requiring community service for welfare recipients

LANSING—The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would allow the state to require some of those receiving public assistance to do “volunteer” work in their communities, said Sen. Darwin Booher, who supported the bill.

“This reform is about personal and fiscal responsibility,” said Booher R-Evart. “This aid is there to help those in need make ends meet during tough times. Empowering state officials to require those receiving help to give back to the community that is providing them with a helping hand builds responsibility and ensures people understand the cost of this benefit.

“The community service requirement would be determined by the state on a case-by-case basis, since it would be unfair to treat someone working 30 hours a week the same as someone sitting at home.”

Senate Bill 276 would enact into law the ability of the Department of Human Services (DHS) to require certain Family Independence Program recipients to perform some community service to receive benefits.

The Family Independence Program assistance program has a number of requirements to receive benefits, such as job training, job search activities, GED preparation courses and other requirements that DHS determines to be necessary conditions.

Community service is an activity that DHS requires through policy, but it is not required in law.

“The idea for this bill came from a mid-Michigan resident who began volunteering while on welfare, and saw that community service evolve into a paid job,” Booher said. “I supported it to ensure that we never lose sight of the fact that public assistance isn’t free. The people sacrifice part of their hard-earned dollars to help the less fortunate. Doing some kind of community service is a way for recipients to show their appreciation.”

This bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Sen. Booher Op-Ed: A new day to thank our community’s tradesmen

There’s a day to honor administrative assistants, bosses and teachers, but what about those folks who show up at your house when the toilet is overflowing or the A/C quits? When do we say thanks to the tradesmen who built America and keep it running strong?

Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if there were no mechanics in Michigan to repair our cars or if there were no tradesmen with the skills to build the roads that we travel every day? What would we do?

According to a recent Talent Shortage Survey by ManPower Group, jobs for skilled tradesmen go unfilled more than any other category of employment. That’s right: plumbers, electricians, welders, mechanics and more—there are simply not enough youth considering professions as tradesmen. Why don’t more people want to learn a skilled trade so they can work with their hands and make a good living?

The answer may lie, in part, to the fact that Americans show very little appreciation for the men and women employed as professional tradesmen.

It’s time that we did something to change that perception, which is why I introduced Senate Resolution 86 to recognize Sept. 20 as National Tradesmen Day in Michigan this year. 

A simple day to say “thank you” is at the heart of a campaign started in 2011 by IRWIN Tools. National Tradesmen Day is the centerpiece of the campaign to recognize America’s tradesmen and is held the third Friday of September.

I first learned about National Tradesmen Day from the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center in my district. The center is holding a celebration in honor of this day on Sept. 20 and has invited all tradesmen to attend. 

I encourage more schools and centers to do something similar to help thank our workers and encourage more young people to pursue a skilled trade. Reports show that by 2030, 79 million tradesmen will retire with only 41 million new workers replacing them; and only 6 percent of high school students consider a career in the trades. Most vacated jobs will require training and expertise our young people are not getting, so we must do all we can to better educate them about the opportunities available. 

I hope that National Tradesmen Day becomes a part of this state’s traditions. Maybe it’s a day to hold a celebration, like the career center is doing, or drop a box of doughnuts off at the body shop. Maybe it’s just a good excuse to call a trusted skilled tradesman who has helped you and say “thanks.”

To work with one’s hands—to build something—has always been and should be commendable. With this resolution, we now have an official day to honor the hardworking tradesmen of Michigan. Please join me in celebrating tradesmen on Sept. 20 and on every National Tradesmen Day moving forward, and let’s encourage more of our young people to explore the skilled trades.

For more ideas and information about how to thank tradesmen, visit www.nationaltradesmenday.com.

Darwin L. Booher
State Senator – 35th District