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CRC Column

The right to criticize government is also an obligation to know what you are talking about. 
-Lent Upson, 1st Executive Director of CRC  


For over 90 years, the objective of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has been to provide factual, unbiased independent information on significant issues concerning state and local government organization and finance. CRC believes that the use of this information by policymakers will lead to sound, rational public policy in Michigan.

 

CRC's Blog

Check out the latest posts on the Citizens Research Council of Michigan blog, CRC Column:

 

IN THE NEWS

CRC coauthors report that examines policy options to support children from birth to age three

November 17, 2014, A new report released by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) and Public Sector Consultants (PSC) suggests that state policymakers can make targeted investments in evidence-based programs to help ensure Michigan's youngest children are ready to succeed when they reach kindergarten. The jointly authored report, titled "Policy Options to Support Children From Birth to Age Three," analyzed current research on early childhood programs with the goal of identifying those most likely to produce the best outcomes for Michigan's children and for the state as a whole.

Extensive research has demonstrated that the period from birth to age three is critical to a child's development. Depending on circumstances, children can begin with a great start, or they can begin to fall behind. Research demonstrates that early intervention is far more effective at improving outcomes for children than later remediation.

The report identifies four promising areas for investment:

  • Home visiting programs - These are voluntary programs that link parents with trained service providers buy instagram followers and likes (e.g., nurses, social workers) who coach families on how to best support their child, address the challenges they face, and teach ways to improve the home environment for children.
  • Access to medical homes - Children with access to medical homes have an ongoing relationship with a personal primary care physician, where the physician and other providers consider the needs of the child, provide enhanced access, and coordinate or integrate specialty care as needed.
  • High-quality child care - A growing body of research illustrates the link between high-quality child care and long-term outcomes for children. Positive child care environments promote children's progress in both academic and social skills.
  • Preschool for three-year-olds - The expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program has made preschool widely available to at-risk four-year-olds. Publicly supported preschool opportunities for three-year-olds, however, are far more limited. Some studies have found that adding a second year of preschool can lead to larger and more persistent learning gains than one year of preschool.

CRC's report is available at no cost, here.

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IN THE NEWS

New CRC Report Sets Record Straight on Recent K-12 Funding History

October 16, 2014 Education funding has taken a front row seat in the current political debate. Claims and counter-claims about changes in state funding for K-12 education abound. As a result, citizens are left scratching their heads about what to believe.

To help clear up some of the confusion, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan (CRC) is releasing a new report on the topic, Making Sense of K-12 Funding. The report explores the recent history of K-12 funding, discusses the important factors affecting the amount of money that school districts receive, and analyzes how much money is available to deliver classroom instruction.

"After listening to the back-and-forth on the issue, we decided it was time to set the record straight," said Craig Thiel of CRC. "While the raw numbers show an absolute increase in state funding in recent years, this fact alone does not paint a complete picture of public school finances -- the actual situation is much more nuanced," added Thiel.

CRC's new report answers three fundamental questions:

1) "Is school funding up or down compared to four years ago?"

Here the answer is an unequivocal 'up'. While total state funding is up over $1 billion from FY2011 to FY2015, the increase is almost exclusively earmarked to satisfy school employee retirement costs, specifically legacy costs arising from the financial market downturn and state retirement system reforms.

2) "Has education funding gone up as much as it could have?"

Here the answer is 'no'. State tax policy and budget decisions effectively stretched the School Aid Fund, leaving fewer dollars available for distribution to K-12 schools. The personal income tax and business tax reforms of 2012 substantially reduced the amount of state tax revenue deposited in the School Aid Fund. Also, lawmakers decided to fund certain state higher education appropriations from the School Aid Fund. Combined, these decisions have effectively reduced the amount of state resources schools receive.

3) "Are individual school districts better off today than they were four years ago?"

An answer to this question is far less definitive. While the amount of per-pupil funding is up, districts are paying higher retirement bills. This leaves fewer resources for other school expenses. Also, total funding at the district level is greatly influenced by the number of students enrolled. Because declining enrollment is a pervasive issue across the state, the vast majority of traditional public school districts must manage with less non-retirement funding.

CRC's report is available at no cost Here.

 

 

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Recent Publications

Policy Options to Support Children From Birth to Age Three

Making Sense of K-12 Funding

Statewide Ballot Issues: Proposals 2014-1 & 2014-2   Wolf Hunting

Addressing Michigan's Obesity Problem

Statewide Ballot Issues: Proposal 2014-1
Voter Approval of a New Statewide Local Tax to Reimburse Local Governments for Personal Property Tax Reforms

School District Fiscal Health Improves, but Some Long-term Challenges Remain

2014 Update of the Outline of the Michigan Tax System

State Support of Nonpublic School Students

Reform of Michigan's Ballot Question Process