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Week in Review: Fresh bills and a new Detroit school board

Jan 14, 2017

The Michigan Legislature is back in session, and the bills are rolling in. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and Michigan Radio senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry look at a bill that would phase out the state income tax, and another that would end daylight saving time in Michigan.

They also discuss Education Secretary nominee Betsy Devos' rescheduled confirmation hearing, Detroit's newly elected school board, and Gov. Rick Snyder's upcoming State of the State address.

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Income tax bill 

This week, lawmakers in Lansing rolled out a plan to reduce and eventually get rid of Michigan's income tax. Under a bill introduced by Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, the current 4.25% income tax would be reduced to 3.9% in 2018. After that, it would be reduced .10% for the next 30 years until it's completely gone.

Lessenberry says "nobody's actually serious" about this bill, because eliminating it would mean no funding for schools or prisons.  

"What they will do is take it from 4.25 to 3.9%, which will be barely detectable to you and me, but to the one percent, it'll be a nice chunk of change," he said.

Betsy Devos

The confirmation hearing for education secretary nominee and West Michigan businesswoman Betsy DeVos has been pushed back to next week while her ethics review can be finalized.

DeVos is a nationally-known advocate for charter schools and voucher systems. She's faced criticism from Democrats, including Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who says she plans to vote "no" on the nomination.

Still, Lessenberry says we'll probably see a party-line vote in DeVos' favor.

"If you could pry loose three Republicans she'd be dead, but I don't think that's going to happen," Lessenberry said.

Detroit school board

New Detroit school board members took office this week. After years under emergency management, this is a board with some actual power.

Lesseberry says though the new board looks "very good" and the district is no longer in debt, money problems will continue  to plague Detroit.

"A lot of people think that what [the Legislature] wanted to do was give [Detroit schools] just enough money to struggle on for few years before they collapsed and everything was turned over to for-profit charters," he said.

State of the State

Gov. Rick Snyder is set to deliver his 7th State of the State address in Lansing on Tuesday.

Last year, the governor devoted most of his speech to the Flint water crisis. Lessenberry says Snyder is certain to talk about the crisis more this year but "probably won't satisfy the Democrats."

Lessenberry says Snyder will probably go over what's been done so far in Flint and indicate that there's still much to do.