Thomas is a firm believer that the Michigan's future is dependent on how well we educate our next generation. On a regular basis, Thomas meets with local school district leaders to discuss education policy and how it will impact the 86th District.
Record Budget for School Aid Fund
In 2018, Michigan passed a $14.6 billion School Aid Fund budget which was the largest in state history. Even more impressive is that the gap of per pupil funding between suburban and rural districts is now $658. This is compared to a $2,300 gap in 1995.
Thomas was proud to support a budget that puts great emphasis on supporting our next generation. $100 million was dedicated to the Marshall Plan for Talent. This plan prepares students for 21st century jobs that are in high demand. This is particularly important for jobs in skilled trades. Michigan previously placed too much emphasis on preparing every student for college. For many students a job in a professional trade is more appealing and will allow them find a great paying career after high school.
2017-18 Public School Pension Reforms
Thomas spent much of his first term in office working to ensure Michigan will have sustainable education funding into the future. Through Bold Leadership and Proven Results Thomas led reforms to address $40 billion dollars of public school education pension debt. In July of 2017, this legislation was signed into law. His reform included an enhanced defined contribution plan for new teachers and an optional hybrid pension plan where the employee shares financial risk with the Michigan taxpayer. Thomas knew that stopping the state from digging deeper into debt was a big achievement, but further reforms were still needed to ensure the state begins to fill the hole. Thomas introduced separate legislation to fix the broken plan for paying off $40 billion of public school pension debt by 2038. This plan would create a sustainable and predictable debt payment plan that is comparable to a home mortgage or car loan. It passed through the House and Senate unanimously. It was signed into law in June of 2018.
Without adequate education funding going forward our future generation will not have the resources needed to be successful. His work will ensure that the state is putting more money in the classroom in years to come.
Addressing College Debt
Thomas introduced a bill to reign in excessive federal student loan debt. The Project on Student Debt, found that 63% of 2016 graduates in Michigan graduated with student debt, and that the average debt was $30,852. This bill requires universities to annually disclose to students the amount of debt borrowed, estimated monthly repayment amount, and resources to employment prospects in areas of study. Other states have implemented similar legislation and there are empirical results to show its effectiveness.