Howard Walker

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers could take up legislation next week meant to keep schools out of deficit.

The legislation would require more reporting from schools that are deemed to be in financial trouble. It could also open up more money in state grants and loans.

State Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, says he’s confident the bills will reach the governor’s desk by the end of the year.

“The more I talk about the process that we’re trying to establish the more support we get,” said Walker.

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Lawmakers in the state Senate hope to move forward this week on a plan to fund the implementation of new school standards.

Republican leaders in the Senate had hoped to introduce a resolution last week to fund the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. But Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) says it was a good idea to wait because there were so many concerns that had to be addressed.

“I want people to have a good look at it and hear from some other experts before we do anything,” said Richardville. “It’s always on our radar screen because it’s an important issue. We’re not going to let that one drag out forever.

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The state Senate has amended a budget bill to add a new exception to Michigan’s workplace smoking ban.

The Senate version of the human services budget would prohibit spending money to enforce the smoking ban against an annual charity cigar dinner in Traverse City and other events like it.

Republican state Senator Howard Walker sponsored the budget amendment.

"It has to do with non-profits that have been in business for over 10 years for their charity which will help some of the needy folks in the community,” Walker said.

Specifically, the amendment would allow the Father Fred Foundation cigar dinner to go forward without running the risk of a citation.

Organizers have been trying to find away around the smoking ban since 2010.

Right now, the only exceptions to the smoking ban are the casinos in Detroit and on tribal land.

Anti-smoking groups oppose the exception.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Republican lawmakers in Lansing are taking feedback on their first draft of the budget for K through 12 public schools. The plan cuts less per student than Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed budget.

Senator Howard Walker chairs the appropriations subcommittee on K-12, School Aid and Education. He says instead, the Senate version gets rid of line items funds in the budget that cover specific things like school bus inspections, adult education, and money for districts with two consecutive years of declining student enrollment.

 “We’re not making broad-based cuts to programs, that we’re not increasing class sizes too broadly so that the delivery of good educational opportunities is not affected.”

School districts get a certain amount of money from the state for each student. Currently, $7,316 is the minimum per pupil allowance a district gets. Governor Snyder is proposing to cut that amount by $470 (including making permanent a $170 cut made last year) for all school districts. The plan before the Senate would cut that per pupil allowance by $290.