July 28, 2023 | This Week in Government: June Regional Jobless Rates Up in 13 MarketsJuly 28, 2023
Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, provides members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.
June Regional Jobless Rates Up in 13 Markets
Thirteen of the state’s 17 labor market areas saw unemployment rates increase during June, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget said Thursday.
“Most Michigan regional jobless rates saw typical June increases,” Wayne Rourke, labor market information director of the Michigan Center for Data and Analytics, said in a statement. “June nonfarm employment increased across the state.”
Regional unemployment rates ranged from 3.7 to 5.7% during June. The 13 labor market areas with unemployment rate increases had a median increase of 0.3%. Four regions displayed saw decreases during June, including the Monroe metropolitan statistical area, the Upper Peninsula, and both the Northeast and Northwest Lower Michigan regions.
Jobless rates decreased in all 17 Michigan labor market areas during the year, with a median rate reduction of 0.4%. The largest over-the-year rate decrease occurred in the Monroe area, which was down 1%.
According to the monthly survey of employers, Michigan not seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased by 36,000, or 0.8%, in June.
The largest over-the-month job gain occurred in the Detroit and Midland metro areas (up 1%). Nonfarm jobs decreased over the month in the Ann Arbor and Lansing regions.
Michigan’s total payroll employment rose by 77,000 over the year, or 1.8%. Eleven metro areas demonstrated employment advances over the year, with a median increase of 1.7%.
Of the state’s 83 counties, 48 had unemployment rates increase between May and June. Twenty-six counties had unemployment decreases, and nine county unemployment rates were unchanged.
Retailers See Slight Increase in Sales, Hope for Bigger Boost in September
Retailers in the state reported about a 5% increase in sales from May to June, according to a press release from the Michigan Retailers Association on Wednesday.
For June, the Retail Index was at 56.0, up from 50.7 recorded in May.
The report also touted optimism amongst the association’s membership for the upcoming months, as 53% of retailers expect to see sales increase through September, while 34% expect a dip. According to the release, it results in a Retail Index rating of 78.0 for the look ahead, which is a significant rise from last month’s predicted rating of 66.7.
Part of the optimism for what is to come is back-to-school shopping. The National Retail Federation expects $41.5 billion to be spent on students and teachers gearing up for the 2023-2024 school year, which is a new high, eclipsing 2021’s $37.1 billion.
The Index is scored on a 100-point scale. When valued higher than 50, the retailer’s confidence is considered positive, when below it is considered negative. Michigan Retailers President William J. Hallan said having half of respondents expect a rise in sales is a promising start to “many positive months.”
“The numbers indicate we are in the middle of a mid-summer roller coaster,” Hallan said. “With the mix of tourism spending and back-to-school spending, it will be interesting to see what August numbers bring.”
House GOP Beats Out House Dems During Second Quarter Fundraising
House Democrats have nearly doubled the amount of cash on hand they have since this time last year, but House Republicans outraised the majority party during the second quarter, according to campaign finance reports. As always, while the caucuses focus heavily on the funds raised to their PACs, those funds represent a diminishing amount of the total funds spent in legislative races, with dark money from funds that do not have to disclose donors playing a big role. That can make it difficult to discern until the fall of the election year who actually has more total resources on their side.
That happened in 2022 when House Republicans dusted House Democrats in fundraising to their PACs only to drown under a tsunami of Democratic dark money as Democrats took the House.
Michigan House Democrats reported more than $900,000 in total contributions this quarter, which is a new record for the first quarter of a non-election year, according to a press release from the caucus.
“Our message is clear: The Michigan House Democrats are strong, and our momentum is only growing. We are willing to put in the work it will take to protect and expand our majority next year,” House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) said in a statement.
The caucus, which holds the majority in the chamber for the first time in more than a decade, filed with $925,833 in total contributions and $1.7 million cash on hand.
Some of the largest contributions, outside of those coming from House members, included $48,875 from the MI Forward Fund, $48,875 from the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee, and $23,875 from the Michigan Education Association.
“With another record-breaking quarter in the books, and coming off of a successful first half of the legislative term, we’re showing our caucus is dedicated to serving the people of Michigan and ensuring we can continue this crucial work beyond 2024,” Campaign Chair Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park) said in a statement.
House Republicans raised just more than $1 million during the period, giving the party $2.3 million cash-on-hand.
“House Republicans are staying focused on what matters – providing a check and balance on the Democrats so we can make Michigan a better, safer, more affordable state,” Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Township). “By focusing on our positive vision, we’ve earned a strong financial position to retake majority. In the latest quarter, we received support from long-time allies, welcomed people supporting our caucus for the first time, and even earned support from some who have backed Democrats in the past. People with diverse views are uniting behind House Republicans because Michigan can’t afford two more years of unchecked Democrat rule over our state.”
Republicans credited support from former Gov. Rick Snyder and business executive and philanthropist Bill Parfet, who respectively serve as chair and executive chair of the House Republican Campaign Committee’s Fundraising Committee, for some of their success during the quarter.
The HRCC received several sizeable donations from individuals, with several donations of $40,000 or more coming from people who live on the west side of the state.
Representatives in vulnerable seats are also looking to bring in cash to help them during the 2024 election cycle. Tuesday saw incumbents file their first fundraising reports since the November election. Here are the campaign finance numbers for 15 candidates across the state that will have to fight to maintain their seats next year.
Last election, Downriver saw tight races in purple districts.
Rep. Jim DeSana (R-Carleton) raised $625 during the second quarter, bringing his total amount of cash on hand to $5,463. DeSana, who has joined up with the Grand New Party and Freedom Caucus, is in his first term and narrowly won his seat representing the 29th District with 51% of the vote.
Rep. Reggie Miller (D-Van Buren Township) raised nearly $63,000 this quarter. Following expenditures, including $7,500 to the House Democratic Fund, she ends the period with $62,651 on hand. Miller, who is in her first term, won 52% of the vote in the 31st House District race.
Also, Downriver, Rep. Jamie Thompson (R-Brownstown Township) raised $11,754 this period. Following expenditures, which include $2,000 for campaign finance, Thompson ends the quarter with $9,553 cash-on-hand. She won her race for the 28th District with 50% of the vote.
Rep. Jaime Churches (D-Wyandotte) is currently facing a recall attempt for her vote in support of HB 447, which would expand Michigan’s protections against hate crimes (See Gongwer Michigan Report, July 17, 2023). She represents the 27th District and won her election with 50% of the vote last November. This quarter, Churches has raised $67,412. Following expenditures, including $10,000 in contributions to the House Democratic Fund, she ends the period with $52,081 on hand.
In the 38th House District on the west side of the state, Rep. Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph) raised nearly $65,000 during the second quarter. Following expenditures, which included $20,000 in contributions to the House Democratic Fund and $5,000 in fees to a financial consultant, he ends the period with $52,925 cash-on-hand. Andrews won his race with 51% of the vote and is serving his first term in the Legislature.
In southwest Michigan’s 44th District, Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek) raised $65,441 this quarter. Following more than $48,000 in caucus contributions to the Michigan House Democratic Fund, he ends the reporting period with $45,800 cash-on-hand. Haadsma, who was elected to his fifth term with 52% of the vote, faced scrutiny earlier this year because of his involvement with Jonathan Byrd, a union lobbyist who has been charged with criminal sexual conduct (See Gongwer Michigan Report, June 29, 2023).
In Oakland County, vulnerable Republicans have been working to fundraise.
Rep. Donni Steele (R-Orion Township), who won her election in the 54th District with 51% of the vote, brought in $20,174 this quarter. After expenditures, she has $27,402 cash-on-hand. Steele is also currently facing a recall attempt (See Gongwer Michigan Report, July 21, 2023).
Rep. Mark Tisdel (R-Rochester Hills) represents the 55th District and is in his third term in the House. He’s raised $5,750 this quarter. After expenditures, which included $25,000 to the House Republican Campaign Committee, he ends the period with $54,059 on hand. Tisdel won his election with 51% of the vote.
In the 57th District, Rep. Tom Kuhn (R-Troy) raised $6,575 during the second quarter. Following expenditures, including $10,000 in contributions to the House Republican Campaign Committee, he has $12,834 in cash on hand. Kuhn is in his first term and won the 2022 election with 52% of the vote.
Also in Oakland County, Rep. Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield) is currently facing a recall for HB 4474 (See Gongwer Michigan Report, July 21, 2023). He was elected to his first term in the Legislature with 56% of the vote. Arbit’s campaign finance report was not available as of 8:10 p.m.
Macomb County Democrats are also working to bring in funds to protect their vulnerable seats.
Rep. Denise Mentzer (D-Mount Clemens) brought in just more than $28,000 during the reporting period. After expenditures, which include $11,000 in caucus contributions to the Michigan House Democratic Fund, she has $23,313 on hand. Mentzer represents the 61st District and won her election with 52% of the vote.
In the 58th District, Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights) was elected to his third term in the Legislature with 51% of the vote. This quarter, he raised $65,151. Following expenditures, which included $24,500 in contributions to the Michigan House Democratic Fund, he has $40,111 cash-on-hand.
Also, in Macomb County, Rep. Alicia St. Germaine (R-Harrison Township) holds a potentially vulnerable seat. She represents the 62nd District and won her race last November with 53% of the vote. She raised more than $7,000 for the period and has nearly $40,000 on hand.
Rep. Jenn Hill (D-Marquette) represents the 109th District, the last Democratic stronghold in the Upper Peninsula. She won her race with 52% of the vote. During the second quarter, she raised approximately $61,000. She ends the period with $90,450 on hand.
In the 103rd District, Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City) raised $84,667 during the second quarter. After expenditures, she ends the reporting period with $73,297 on hand. Coffia edged out former Rep. Jack O’Malley during the November election and won her race with 49% of the vote.
Senate GOP Outraises Dems, 2-1 Advantage Cash on Hand
Senate Republicans narrowly outraised the majority Democratic caucus during the most recent fundraising quarter, with the GOP having double the amount of cash in their coffers, campaign finance reports filed Tuesday showed.
While the Senate GOP was able to outraise their Democratic counterparts and had about double the cash on hand of the Democrats, the fundraising gap between the two caucuses and the cash on hand advantage was sharply narrowed compared to the same period four years ago.
For the period covering April 21 through July 20, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee reported raising $673,806 during the quarter and spending $137,364. This left the caucus with more than $1.186 million cash on hand.
Its largest contribution during the quarter was $28,000 from 42 North Partners Chairperson Michael Jandernoa of Grand Rapids.
Seven $25,000 contributions were also reported by the Senate GOP: from Linda and Earl Peterson, owners of Peterson Farms in Shelby; Boji Group President Ronnie Boji; Zhang Financial President Charles Zhang and Lynn Chen-Zhang, the company’s chief executive officer, both of Portage; and Northwood Group CEO William Parfet and Barbara Parfet, both of Hickory Corners. Former Michigan Republican Party Chair Ron Weiser also contributed $20,000.
Of its expenses, $104,988 was from consulting from various groups.
The Senate Democratic Fund reported raising $623,078 during the quarter while reporting spending $119,444. This left the Senate Democrats with $571,645 in their account.
A leadership fund controlled by Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) was the source of the caucus’ largest contribution during the quarter of $48,875. Democrats also reported $30,000 contributions from the campaign funds for Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet of Bay City and Sen. Dayna Polehanki of Livonia.
For the Senate Democrats’ expenditures, $45,000 was given to the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee.
Fundraising and cash on hand totals have grown significantly for this early in the four-year Senate cycle compared to four years ago when Republicans held a 22-16 majority.
During the same quarter in 2019, Senate Republicans raised $413,372 during the same period and had $720,477 cash on hand. During that 2019 quarter Senate Democrats raised $183,326 and had $85,643 cash on hand (See Gongwer Michigan Report, July 25, 2019).
The Brinks for Michigan fund controlled by Brinks raised $31,500 during the quarter and spent $102,457. This left $4,403 cash on hand.
Of her expenditures, $100,000 consisted of two $10,000 contributions apiece to the campaigns of five different members of the Senate Democratic caucus: Sen. Darrin Camilleri of Brownstown Township, Sen. Kevin Hertel of Saint Clair Shores, Veronica Klinefelt of Eastpointe, McDonald Rivet and Sen. Sue Shink of Northfield Township.
The Brinks Majority Fund reported raising $55,020, spending $50,757, and having $4,263 in the bank.
Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township) reported raising nearly $50,000 combined between his three leadership PACs during the quarter: Nesbitt for Michigan, the Nesbitt Majority Fund, and the Nesbitt Majority Fund 2.
The Nesbitt Majority Fund 2 raised the most, with $28,000 in contributions. After spending $5,103, the PAC had $26,345 in the bank. For the Nesbitt Majority Fund, $13,000 was raised, and $5,232 was spent, leaving $13,388 cash on hand. The Nesbitt for Michigan PAC raised $8,425 during the quarter, spent $2,005, and had $7,363 cash remaining.
Are Students Getting Teachers They Need Under 3rd Grade Reading Law?
Students struggling with reading are less likely to have access to highly effective teachers, according to a study from the Michigan State University Education Policy Innovation Collaborative.
The authors – John Westall, Katharine Strunk, and Andrew Utter – examined the implementation of Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law, which aims to improve student’s literacy skills by the end of third grade by retaining students who score at least a year behind grade level on the English Language Arts portion of the M-STEP. The law provided “good cause exemptions” for retention that allowed students to be advanced to fourth grade, but the retention-eligible students would then have to be provided with literacy interventions and assigned to a highly effective teacher.
The Legislature repealed the retention component of the law in March 2023 (PA 7), but the teacher assignment component remained in effect and was in effect during the 2021-22 school year on which the study is based.
The study examined factors, including student demographics and district characteristics, that influence the likelihood of students attending schools with highly effective teachers. The study also compared students just above and below the M-STEP cutoff score to answer whether 2020-21 retention eligibility affects the probability of students being assigned to a highly effective teacher in the following years.
During the 2021-22 school year, 11% of Michigan students attended a school without a highly effective teacher, and 24% attended a school without one in their grade.
Students who were retention-eligible and economically disadvantaged were between 6 and 8 percentage points less likely to attend a school with a highly effective teacher in their grade than students were not eligible for retention and not economically disadvantaged.
The study controlled for English language learners and students with disabilities, which showed that there was not a significant difference between retention-eligible and non-retention-eligible students. This suggests, the authors argue, that economic disadvantage status explains the difference in access to highly effective teachers. The disparity was also seen when the data was controlled for student and district characteristics to compare students in similar districts.
Students aren’t more likely to be assigned to a highly effective teacher if they are eligible for third-grade retention, the study found.
“This finding implies that schools may not be effectively implementing the teacher assignment requirement, although other explanations are possible,” the authors said in the study.
Other explanations include that retention-eligible students are less likely to attend a school with a highly effective teacher in their grade, so there would be no effect because there are no highly effective teachers available. Although, the authors found that even when looking at data for retention-eligible students with a highly effective teacher in their grade, they found similar results.
About 15% of retention-eligible students in schools with a highly effective teacher in their grade are not assigned to one of those teachers, the study found. The data also showed that highly effective teachers in schools already have an average of two-retention eligible students in their classrooms, and retention-eligible students are less likely than non-eligible students to be assigned to a teacher with an ELA-specific endorsement. This suggests that schools and districts are not more likely to assign students to literacy specialists in lieu of a highly effective teacher.
Policymakers should consider additional work to make the third-grade reading law effective, the authors argue.
Among the suggested changes are increasing communication and training for administrators, who may not be aware of the requirements to assign retention-eligible students to certain teachers, especially because most of the conversation around the law has been focused on the retention portion.
The authors also suggest mandating transparent reporting for accountability. This might include public-facing dashboards to highlight the proportion of students assigned to highly effective teachers. Making this information available would make it possible for policymakers, educators, and the public to assess how well the district’s actions align with the law’s intentions.
Finally, the authors suggest introducing incentives to address non-compliance or inaction. By establishing a clear reason for schools to prioritize assigning retention-eligible students to highly effective teachers, policymakers can encourage the requirements of the Read by Grade Three Law are being met.
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