Legislator: Informative measure can now lead to more savings for school districts
A bill proposed by state Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan which clears up language in existing law regarding lease-purchase agreements today was overwhelmingly advanced in a bipartisan vote by the Michigan House.
Lease-purchase agreements provide school boards and intermediate school districts with flexibility when they are looking to lower operating costs through energy conservation or operational improvements. The agreement acts as a pay-as-you-go system, allowing districts to use money generated through energy savings to pay for an ongoing project or begin another.
Griffin has expressed concern about interpretations of statute that are not consistent with the intent of the original bill – House Bill 4080, which became Public Act 23 of 2017 upon being signed by the governor.
“There are school districts who have been told that these agreements only work if they are directly related to energy conservation,” Griffin said. “We needed this bill to clarify that this is an option that can be used for more broadly-defined operational improvements. The narrower the interpretation gets with the existing law, the less schools will actually be able to lower energy and operational costs and that means less money to go back into our classrooms.”
Like its predecessor, HB 5238 does not mandate school districts to enter into lease-purchase agreements when considering improvements to facilities.
“Schools are looking to get as much out of every dollar they spend and energy efficiency helps make that possible,” Griffin said. “This is merely a cost-saving program available to districts looking to make improvements. Every dollar saved and every cost avoided means more money for teachers and students.”
HB 5238 previously received unanimous, bipartisan approval from the House Local Government Committee on Jan. 31 and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.