State Rep. Kim LaSata had a successful 2017, taking a lead role in state higher education funding while also supporting key legislation to help move Michigan forward
“We have had many successes over the past year, including improving our higher education system, and submitting legislation inspired by the citizens of southwest Michigan,” said LaSata, of Bainbridge Township. “This being my first year as state representative, I’m pleased with the strides we have made.”
LaSata, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, focused on providing for the future of Michigan’s college and university students with her 2017-18 budget recommendations. The approved plan helped stabilize tuition costs, gave Michigan’s 15 public universities a 2.3 percent funding increase, improved state offered scholarship programs, and added new reporting requirements for sexual assault incidents that occur on campus.
She also helped increase funding for local school districts by closing a tax loophole to prevent out-of-state residents from improperly claiming property tax exemptions when they buy second homes in Michigan. The legislation, later signed into law, was introduced because certain property owners intentionally declare a homestead property tax exemption on their second home in Michigan, while at the same time claiming a similar exemption on their primary residence in another state. The money these property owners were receiving from the loophole will now be sent to our schools and local governments.
LaSata, inspired by a July 2016 courtroom assault in Berrien County, also had legislation voted through the state House to increase penalties for assault and battery on courtroom personnel, such as judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, court reporters and recorders. The increase in penalties will make our courtrooms safer and give the personnel the same protections as first responders that coordinate with the same type of assailants.
And, as a lover of the outdoors, LaSata advanced a bill to streamline rules regulating Michigan’s Adopt-a-River and Adopt-a-Shoreline programs. This will make it easier for residents and organizations to clean up litter from the places they love and want to preserve.
Other key advancements by the state House included:
Advanced bipartisan legislation that ensures taxpayer access to public records by subjecting the governor and lieutenant governor to provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and creating the Legislative Open Records Act to provide more transparency in the House and Senate;
Assisted local communities and counties by increasing revenue sharing in the 2017-18 budget with a 2.5 percent ($6.2 million) increase for cities, villages, and townships and a 1 percent increase for counties;
Approved added funding for roads, which included a $450 million increase for the upcoming budget year to help address state transportation needs;
Record investment in our educational system with an additional $27 million in K-12 per-pupil funding, equating to $25 more in funding per high school student;
Increased funding for expanding skilled trades programs by approving $41 million for Going Pro, a Michigan Economic Development Council program.
“I could not have asked for a better first year as state Representative,” LaSata said. “I am extremely proud of, not only my own accomplishments, but also of my colleagues for their diligence and tenacity to improve our state. With a new year, there are new challenges like auto insurance reform, updating our state’s tax code to recent federal changes, and improving workforce training programs and I am excited to pick up where I left off in 2017.”