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Once more into the (sinking fund) breach

State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) has once again introduced a bill that would broaden the use of sinking funds by school districts. "As we discussed in this article":http://www.miparentsforschools.org/node/95 and in a "legislative wrap-up below":http://www.miparentsforschools.org/node/106, sinking funds are property-tax supported funds earmarked for school capital projects. School officials have long wanted to be able to use sinking funds for items like technology and school buses, which currently must be purchased out of operating funds or bond issues that come along once in 10 or 20 years. The bill would allow schools to use sinking funds for any purpose currently allowed for bond issues. Proponents have tried to get bills similar to this passed for several years now, coming close in December when the House passed a version near the end of the session (the Senate leadership killed it by sending it off to committee as the session closed). Opponents, which have included the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and other anti-tax groups, fear that more school districts would be tempted to ask for these sinking funds if their use is broadened. Any such funds would have to be approved by local voters, however. Supporters, which include school groups like the Michigan Association of School Boards, feel that they had enough votes in the Senate last December to pass the legislation, if the leadership had allowed it to come to the floor. They are more optimistic that the legislation will pass this time around. Text and analysis of the bill can be found here: http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2009-SB-0084
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