Enhanced Michigan Education Savings Program sent to House
LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, joined his Senate colleagues on Wednesday in passing legislation that would supplement existing education funding without raising taxes.
The package of bills, known as the Enhanced Michigan Education Savings Program (E-MESP), would expand the provisions of the existing Michigan Educational Savings Program (MESP) beyond higher education.
“Learning is a lifelong endeavor,” Sen. Colbeck said. “The proposed E-MESP program is a great way to invest in education through all phases of one’s life. This innovative new program empowers parents and students of all ages to enhance savings not just for college but also for K-12 educational expenses, skilled trades training and professional development.”
The E-MESP bill package will help to solve a variety of education related problems such as calls for additional funding, workforce shortages of qualified graduates, growing out of pocket expenses for parents and teachers, and improved parental involvement in education.
It is estimated that upwards of $3,000 more per-pupil per-year could be made available for education via the student-specific E-MESP savings accounts. An additional piece of legislation, Senate Concurrent Resolution 25, calls on the federal government to expand tax exemptions and contribution limits for state-sponsored education savings accounts such as those offered in the E-MESP.
“Many parents, teachers, and administrators are seeking to provide additional money for use in educating our kids and even ourselves later in life,” Sen. Colbeck said. “Services such as tutoring can be expensive, and sports uniforms and band instruments are things that parents can use help saving for.
“Some people say that it is impossible to do so without increasing taxes, but other options exist that also have the benefit of putting students and parents more in charge of how to enhance their education.”
The legislation would not replace existing public funding mechanisms for schools. It merely supplements current funding streams without raising taxes. Participation in the program is optional for both parents and schools.
In accordance with the constraints of Article VIII, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution, no public funding can be appropriated to private schools. Under the proposed legislation, the services eligible for payments from the E-MESP accounts would be determined by the Michigan Department of Education in accordance with the constraints of the Michigan Constitution.
A likely list of eligible K-12 educational services could include things such as tutoring, band instruments, football uniforms, or out-of-pocket transportation expenses. Money not used for such K-12 purposes could also be used to help pay for higher education, vocational education or professional development later in life.
The legislation provides a way to increase funding available for schools without raising taxes, improves education cost transparency, and empowers parents with choices as to how education funds are spent.
The legislation now heads to the House for further consideration.