Study the Ballot Proposals Before You Vote

By CYNTHIA KMETT

The very last item on the November 6 election ballot is an important one for those who live in the Troy School District.

The 1994 Headlee Amendment has thrown a wrench into school funding, especially when it comes to taxing businesses in the city. The ballot proposal is not a new tax on residents’ property and you will have not an increase in your property taxes.

It seems that as Headlee rolls back the amount that can be collected each year, the Troy School District, among the finest in the state by anyone’s measure, is losing $400,000 this year in business taxes. That amount will go up every year unless the millage is reset, explains Dr. Richard Machesky, superintendent of the Troy School District.

While the millage rate is set a bit higher, the district can never levy more than the 18 mills set forth in 1994. This just allows the district to stay ahead of its finances as Headlee dictates less millage in the future. The district hopes voters will say yes to the Troy School Millage proposal.

There are three proposals on the ballot this fall.

Recreational marijuana is Proposal 18-1 and will allow those 21 and over to purchase, possess, and use marijuana. You would also be permitted to grow 12 plants of your own and keep 10 ounces for your use. Michigan cities will still be allowed to ban marijuana sales and stores within their borders. And you still can’t light up on the street, or drive impaired.

It’s quite obvious that we have some strangely configured voting districts in Michigan because of gerrymandering. Districts for the Michigan House and Senate, as well as our Congressional District, are redrawn every ten years after the census. The next census is in 2020. The Republicans were in control of the legislature following the past two census counts in 2000 and 2010 and drew some very disconnected districts. Those districts resulted in Democrats either being divided so they wouldn’t win, or confined to a district to limit their strength.

Now comes Proposal 18-2, being billed to end gerrymandering and set up fair districts. A commission of 13 citizens will set the new districts, including four Republicans, four Democrats, and five residents without party affiliations or jobs or relatives in politics. Who will appoint these commission members? Why the Secretary of State gets that job. Will the “five nonpartisans” really be that, or will they have the same leanings as the party they, or maybe as the Secretary of State, represent?

Proposal 18-2 has eight pages on both sides single-spaced. That’s why State Senator Marty Knollenberg says it’s wise not to sign any petition until you’ve read the whole thing. He says this is akin to a fourth branch of government that has no accountability to the voters.

Then there’s Proposal 18-3, which would return straight ticket voting. Senator Knollenberg says, “Philosophically, I think we should know who we’re voting for.” Forty-one other states oppose straight-ticket voting, and he’s not in favor of this proposal. The proposal will also allow voters to register right up to the time they are standing in line for a ballot. The mechanics of knowing you live where you say you live, and are who you say you are, would have to be worked out.

It’s a complicated and long ballot, so it’s best to be informed before you get to the polls. There’s a lot at stake this November.