Jake Neher http://michiganradio.org en Another audit says Michigan has failed to protect vulnerable adults http://michiganradio.org/post/another-audit-says-michigan-has-failed-protect-vulnerable-adults <p>Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is again taking heat for failing to protect vulnerable adults.</p><p></p><p>A state <a href="http://209.59.148.65/finalpdfs/13_14/r431260113.pdf">audit released Wednesday</a> shows the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) has mismanaged its Adult Protective Services (APS) program since 2010. Among other things, it says DHS did not adequately train caseworkers and supervisors and failed to investigate complaints of abuse.</p><p></p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 21:51:11 +0000 Jake Neher 18322 at http://michiganradio.org Another audit says Michigan has failed to protect vulnerable adults Michigan's superintendent predicts institutions will lose authority to create charter schools http://michiganradio.org/post/michigans-superintendent-predicts-institutions-will-lose-authority-create-charter-schools <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The statement comes a day after state Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan said he’s ready to use his authority to revoke that ability from charter school authorizers. That’s if they fail to meet new standards for transparency set by state education officials.</span></p><p>Flanagan says he met with authorizers in February about issues involving charters. He says he’s not convinced all of them will be able to meet the new, tougher standards.</p><p>“If I had to guess, just because of the candor at the February meeting, there’s probably some that we won’t extend their ability,” Flanagan said Tuesday. “But I don’t want to pre-judge that too much. That’s only hearing the anecdotal stuff.”</p><p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:22:25 +0000 Jake Neher 18306 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan's superintendent predicts institutions will lose authority to create charter schools Superintendents blast education budget http://michiganradio.org/post/superintendents-blast-education-budget <p>As Michigan schools begin their new budget year this week, some local superintendents are urging lawmakers to return from their summer break to boost education funding.</p><p></p><p>Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new education budget last week that boosts funding for all public schools by at least $50 per student. But Forest Hills Schools Superintendent Dan Behm says districts face new costs that wipe out that minimum increase.</p><p></p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 21:15:47 +0000 Jake Neher 18230 at http://michiganradio.org Superintendents blast education budget Background checks coming for home-aid workers; state can’t exclude all felons http://michiganradio.org/post/background-checks-coming-home-aid-workers-state-can-t-exclude-all-felons <p>Michigan cannot ban all felons from being caregivers in the state’s Medicaid in-home care program. That’s according to state officials who outlined an upcoming background check system on Monday.</p><p></p><p>People convicted of patient abuse or neglect, health-care fraud, or drug-related crimes will be barred from working with in-home Medicaid patients. But state officials say federal law prevents them from excluding people based on crimes that are not related to in-home care.</p><p></p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:52:34 +0000 Jake Neher 18214 at http://michiganradio.org Background checks coming for home-aid workers; state can’t exclude all felons Charter school advocate rips Detroit Free Press investigation http://michiganradio.org/post/charter-school-advocate-rips-detroit-free-press-investigation <p>One of Michigan’s top charter school advocates is blasting the <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20140622/NEWS06/140507009/State-of-charter-schools-How-Michigan-spends-1-billion-but-fails-to-hold-schools-accountable">Detroit Free Press’ recent investigation</a> into charters.</p><p></p><p>Reporter Jennifer Dixon and others uncovered incidents suggesting conflicts of interest, a lack of transparency, and mixed academic results in charters.</p><p></p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 22:53:05 +0000 Jake Neher 18195 at http://michiganradio.org Charter school advocate rips Detroit Free Press investigation Schauer says he’d push stricter regulations on charter schools as governor http://michiganradio.org/post/schauer-says-he-d-push-stricter-regulations-charter-schools-governor <p>Former Congressman Mark Schauer says he would put tougher regulations on charter schools if he’s elected governor. The Battle Creek Democrat says Gov. Rick Snyder has given bad charter operators a “free pass.”</p><p></p><p>“We need to write into law the oversight that was left out when Rick Snyder lifted the cap on the number of charter schools,” said Schauer. “It’s the Wild West right now, and these schools see kids with dollar signs on their foreheads.”</p><p></p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 21:37:18 +0000 Jake Neher 18174 at http://michiganradio.org Schauer says he’d push stricter regulations on charter schools as governor Michigan economists warn against ending pensions for public employees http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-economists-warn-against-ending-pensions-public-employees <p>Some economists say Michigan failed to consider the consequences of ending pension plans for public workers.</p><p></p><p>The state stopped offering pensions to new employees in 1997. Budget officials say that decision has cut Michigan’s long-term debt by about $5 billion.</p><p></p><p>A new report from Great Lakes Economic Consulting says the new 401(k) style plans may be cheaper. But it says it’s not fair to compare them to traditional pensions, which provide better protections for both workers and employers.</p><p></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 21:52:50 +0000 Jake Neher 18136 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan economists warn against ending pensions for public employees Michigan welcomes office to help skilled immigrants get jobs http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-welcomes-office-help-skilled-immigrants-get-jobs <p>Highly skilled immigrants in Michigan now have a new resource to help them find jobs. The national nonprofit organization Upwardly Global opened a new office in Detroit on Monday.</p><p></p><p>Upwardly Global says immigrants and refugees often have valuable job skills that are in high demand in the United States. But the group says they often still have trouble finding work because of cultural differences.</p><p></p><p>The new office is meant to help polish immigrants’ job searching skills and connect them with local employers.</p><p></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 01:11:11 +0000 Jake Neher 18119 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan welcomes office to help skilled immigrants get jobs Michigan to make sure felons can't work as in-home health aides http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-make-sure-felons-cant-work-home-health-aides <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Michigan Health Director Jim </span>Haveman<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> says a Medicaid program that pays for in-home care is being revamped.</span></p><p><br />A recent state audit showed the program allowed some convicted felons to work with patients.</p><p>Haveman says the changes will protect taxpayers and patients. Thu, 19 Jun 2014 14:49:24 +0000 Jake Neher 18070 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan to make sure felons can't work as in-home health aides Michigan forges official relationship with Israel on industrial R&D http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-forges-official-relationship-israel-industrial-rd <p>Gov. Rick Snyder has cemented a formal relationship between Michigan and Israel to collaborate on industrial research and development.</p><p></p><p>The governor and Israeli Consul General to the Midwest Roey Gilad signed a memorandum of understanding Monday in Dearborn.<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p>Snyder says the deal was reached after more than a year of talks with Israeli officials.</p><p></p><p>“I look forward to seeing this not be the end of something, but merely a stopping point on a journey of strengthened relationships,” said Snyder.</p><p></p><p>The formal relationship is partly the result of the governor’s trade mission to Israel this time last year. That trip was cut short by negotiations in Lansing over expanding Medicaid.</p><p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 22:04:09 +0000 Jake Neher 18026 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan forges official relationship with Israel on industrial R&D Snyder: More needs to be done to help refugees in Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-more-needs-be-done-help-refugees-michigan <p>The number of refugees who have settled in Michigan has grown in recent years – and Governor Rick Snyder says more should be done to help them.</p><p></p><p>At a town hall meeting at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Snyder called on community leaders to help the state find ways to help refugees.</p><p></p><p>“It’s important that we find ways to help these people - they’ve gone through terrible circumstances&nbsp;–&nbsp;about making them feel welcome in our country,” Snyder told reporters after the town hall.</p><p></p><p>“We want to be more proactive. So, that’s where I actually want to work with groups to really make sure we’ve identified the various issues. I think there’s more work that we can do to improve.”</p><p></p><p>The governor stopped short of offering any specific policy proposals to address the issue.</p><p></p><p>Immigration groups say the number of refugees in Michigan has been climbing due in part to conflicts in the Middle East.</p><p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 22:00:58 +0000 Jake Neher 18025 at http://michiganradio.org Snyder: More needs to be done to help refugees in Michigan Michigan Senate leader says he’s on board with medical marijuana bills http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-senate-leader-says-he-s-board-medical-marijuana-bills <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The top lawmaker in the state Senate says he’s now on board with legislation to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan.</span></p><p>Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, is now also embracing a bill that would allow state-certified patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.</p><p>Richardville was not a fan of the legislation when the state House approved it late last year. But he says that has changed as he’s heard more from supporters of the bills.</p><p>“This is for well-meaning people and it’s all for medical purposes. And [patients and caregivers] came and gave some moving testimony,” said Richardville.</p><p>“There’s so much to learn about that topic, and I didn’t know a lot about it. And I didn’t realize how difficult smoking is for some people and the different ingestion techniques that are important to them.”</p><p>Supporters of <a href="http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2013-HB-4271">House Bill 4271</a> say dispensaries allow people to get treatment right away, instead of having to wait for a caregiver to grow and cultivate marijuana. They say that process can take months. Patients with certain diseases, such as cancer, sometimes don’t live long enough to get the benefits of medical marijuana.</p><p>A number of state Supreme Court rulings in recent years have made it impossible for dispensaries to operate the way they did when Michigan voters first approved the state’s Medical Marijuana Act in 2008.</p><p>Advocates say <a href="http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2013-HB-5104">House Bill 5104</a> is also necessary because a recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling limited legal medical marijuana use to smokable forms. They say children and people with respiratory illnesses should not be forced to smoke cannabis. Products like candies, lotions, and oils can produce unique benefits and some don’t produce a “high” effect, according to patients and caregivers.</p><p>Richardville chairs the Senate Government Operations Committee, where the bills sit now. He expects to move the bills to the Senate floor over the summer. He says a vote in the full state Senate could come as early as September.</p><p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:48:32 +0000 Jake Neher 18010 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Senate leader says he’s on board with medical marijuana bills Lawmakers decide against docking MSU $500k for labor courses http://michiganradio.org/post/lawmakers-decide-against-docking-msu-500k-labor-courses <p>State lawmakers have backed down from penalizing Michigan State University over controversial courses about organized labor. The $500,000 fine was taken out of a budget bill approved this week in the Legislature.</p><p></p><p>“As we’ve made the rounds and talked to a number of members, I think as we give them all information, I think there’s fewer concerns than were originally raised,” said David Bertram, MSU’s assistant vice president for state affairs.</p><p></p><p>Bertram says no taxpayer money is used to support the program.</p><p></p><p>“As a matter of fact, we actually make a small profit off of this that goes into the graduate program at our school of human resources and labor relations,” he said.</p><p></p><p>The program is offered to groups hoping to learn more about union organizing. It is not open to regular undergraduate or graduate students.</p><p></p><p>The state budget for the fiscal year starting in October is on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk.</p><p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 21:45:52 +0000 Jake Neher 17998 at http://michiganradio.org Lawmakers decide against docking MSU $500k for labor courses Michigan lawmakers fail to come up with a plan to fix the roads, will try again later http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-lawmakers-fail-come-plan-fix-roads-will-try-again-later <p>Legislation to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads will have to wait until lawmakers return from their summer break.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The state Senate failed multiple times this week to pass comprehensive road spending plans – and even rejected legislation that would make structural changes to the system, but keep funding at or near current levels.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Now, lawmakers have left Lansing and probably won’t hold any more votes until August or September.</span></p><p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 12:55:45 +0000 Jake Neher 17988 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan lawmakers fail to come up with a plan to fix the roads, will try again later Plan for a sales tax hike to repair Michigan's roads fails http://michiganradio.org/post/plan-sales-tax-hike-repair-michigans-roads-fails <p><span style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal;">A plan to ask voters to approve a 1% sales tax hike to help fix Michigan's roads has been defeated in the state Senate.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal;">The proposal was expected to raise about $1.3 billion a year if approved by lawmakers and voters.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal;">The resolution failed by a wide margin, 14-24. It would have needed 26 'yes' votes to pass.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: normal;">The Senate is expected to take up a number of other road funding bills this afternoon. A plan to increase the state's gas tax to raise more than $1.4 billion a year is expected to come up for a vote later today.</span></p><p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 20:36:19 +0000 Jake Neher 17962 at http://michiganradio.org Plan for a sales tax hike to repair Michigan's roads fails Michigan film incentives to stay at $50 million, Senate leader wants more http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-film-incentives-stay-50-million-senate-leader-wants-more <p>The top Republican in the state Senate says he’s not satisfied with the amount of money lawmakers have set aside for film and TV productions.</p><p></p><p>The Legislature is expected to wrap up a state budget this week. It will include $50 million in film incentives. That’s the same as last year, but half of that money is now slated to continue into future budgets.</p><p></p><p>Gov. Rick Snyder has sought to cut the film incentives since he took office in 2011. He says the state can make better investments that create more of an economic return.</p><p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 22:04:12 +0000 Jake Neher 17943 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan film incentives to stay at $50 million, Senate leader wants more Gov. Snyder eyes road funding deal this week http://michiganradio.org/post/gov-snyder-eyes-road-funding-deal-week <p>Gov. Rick Snyder wants a road funding solution on his desk by the end of this week.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Lawmakers will meet three days this week before they’re expected to go on their summer break.</span></p><p></p><p>One of the governor’s biggest priorities in his first term has been to boost infrastructure spending by more than $1 billion a year. But with political campaigns about to heat up over the summer, a legislative deal still hasn’t materialized.</p><p></p><p>The governor does not want the issue to stay unresolved until the fall - or later.</p><p></p> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 21:52:43 +0000 Jake Neher 17927 at http://michiganradio.org Gov. Snyder eyes road funding deal this week Visas for sale: Not everyone’s a fan of Gov. Snyder’s EB-5 center http://michiganradio.org/post/visas-sale-not-everyone-s-fan-gov-snyder-s-eb-5-center <p></p><p>Silverio Lopez and his son Antonio run their Tequila Cabresto brand out of their house in Southwest Detroit. They say about 60 restaurants in and around the city carry their brand of small batch, craft tequila. They also own a rim and tire shop just down the street. In total, they employ close to 10 people.</p><p>Silverio emigrated from Mexico in the early '80s. He says there were many reasons for settling down and starting a business in Detroit.</p><p>“The properties were cheap, the rent was cheaper, plus we had family here already,” he said through Antonio, who translated from Spanish.</p><p>The Lopez family exemplifies the kind of people Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to attract to Michigan – people with an entrepreneurial spirit who can create jobs.</p><p>But some critics of the governor’s new EB-5 visa program say it’s a slap in the face to immigrants like Silverio Lopez, who came here with nothing.</p><p> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 16:05:49 +0000 Jake Neher 17913 at http://michiganradio.org Visas for sale: Not everyone’s a fan of Gov. Snyder’s EB-5 center Michigan makes strides in calculating dropout, graduation rates http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-makes-strides-calculating-dropout-graduation-rates <p>Michigan is doing a better job calculating high school dropout and graduation rates. That’s according a <a href="http://www.audgen.michigan.gov/finalpdfs/13_14/r071018105F.pdf">new report</a> from the state auditor general’s office.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">An audit in 2006 showed the state was not providing reliable data on graduations and dropouts. It made a list of recommendations for how the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) could do better.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Now, the auditor general says the department has met all those recommendations.</span></p><p> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 21:23:08 +0000 Jake Neher 17900 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan makes strides in calculating dropout, graduation rates Michigan schools’ finances “stabilizing,” says state superintendent http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-schools-finances-stabilizing-says-state-superintendent <p>Late last year, the state’s top education official had dire predictions for the finances of Michigan schools. He predicted the number of districts in deficit could reach 100 “before long.”</p><p></p><p>Now, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan says the situation is stabilizing, and he credits increased funding from the state.</p><p></p><p>“Debates aside about how much of an increase there is – there’s been improved funding the last couple years,” said Flanagan. “I think there could be more. But I think that’s helped.”</p><p></p><p>Flanagan gave his latest regular update to the state Legislature Thursday on school districts with budget deficits. He says the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) expects the number of deficit districts to have dropped from 52 to 45 over the course of this school year.</p><p></p><p>Flanagan says the state’s sluggish economy in recent years has made it difficult to help schools get their books in order.</p><p></p><p>“Now we’re coming out of it,” he said, “and we need to continue to invest in our kids. And I appreciate the start that this legislature and governor have made. I do think we can and will do more in the future.”</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Flanagan is urging state lawmakers to create an “early warning system” for schools facing financial emergencies. Legislation in the state Senate would also make it easier for the state to assign an emergency manager if a district violates a deficit elimination plan.</span></p><p></p><p>Democrats say it’s not fair to say Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature have increased state education funding. Republicans include money that went into the teacher pension system.</p><p> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 22:04:35 +0000 Jake Neher 17890 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan schools’ finances “stabilizing,” says state superintendent