New Report Highlights Corporate Influence on Lansing Republicans’ Education Agenda

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Common Cause, Michigan Citizen Action and Progress Michigan

Tuesday, June 25, 2012
Contact: Jessica Tramontana, jessica@progressmichigan.org, 517-974-6302

21 current lawmakers and Snyder Administration officials belong to shadowy corporate lobby group ALEC

LANSING – Citizens’ watchdog groups released a new report today showcasing the corporate influence on Lansing Republicans’ education agenda, including privatizing education through vouchers, online and charter schools. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a secretive group that’s funded by corporations, drafts bills that directly benefit funder corporations, and then hands the bills to state lawmakers to introduce as their own bills. This new report, “ALEC v. Kids,” highlights multiple bills that mirror ALEC model legislation.

“It’s shameful that big corporations – instead of elected leaders – are the ones actually drafting our laws,” said Jessica Tramontana with Progress Michigan. “Lansing politicians should be putting Michigan’s kids first, not corporate profits. We’re calling on Michigan lawmakers to cut ties with ALEC and focus on helping kids.”

The report traces how wealthy special interests are responsible for writing a road map for state politicians – who are paying members – to implement policies that directly benefit corporate bottom lines. In Michigan, companies that have taken advantage of this new policy through rapid expansion have included K12 Inc. and National Heritage Academies, who are both members of ALEC’s Education Task Force. The State Policy Network, parent organization of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, also sits on the Task Force.

“When Michigan residents are casting their ballots, they have a right to know who’s representing their best interests,” said Melanie McElroy, Executive Director of Common Cause Michigan. “ALEC has set their sights on attacking public education – but sunshine is the best disinfectant for all Michigan residents. That’s why we’re working to shed some light on ALEC’s role in drafting laws that impact our state.”

Last year, 26 Michigan lawmakers and Snyder Administration officials were ALEC members. This year that number is down to 21, after Reps. Horn, Agema, and Gilbert were forced out of office by Michigan’s term limits law, although Agema is still active as Michigan’s Republican National Committeeman. Sen. Rick Jones announced last year he’d no longer be paying dues to keep up his ALEC membership. Former Sen. Patricia Birkholz left the Snyder Administration last year to take a post with Consumers’ Energy.

“It’s time for our elected representatives to put Michigan residents before corporate profits,” said Linda Teeter, Executive Director of Michigan Citizen Action. “Clearly Lansing’s education agenda has been profit-driven, not student-driven. Lansing politicians should come clean on who is really writing our laws.”

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BACKGROUND:

An Executive Summary for the report can be viewed here.

The report can be viewed here.

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