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No-fault reform a must

Michigan motorists, saddled with the highest-in-the-nation auto insurance premiums, deserve auto insurance rate relief. It’s time for lawmakers to put aside partisan politics and pandering to groups benefiting from the gravy train we call no-fault.

Michigan is the only state in the nation that requires drivers to purchase unlimited, lifetime medical benefits as part of their auto insurance policy. This overly generous benefit system, along with excessive billing practices by medical providers for treatment of auto accident victims and a system ripe with fraud, are widely considered the primary cost-drivers of Michigan’s exorbitant auto insurance rates.

Michigan’s auto insurance premiums are nearly twice the national average and worse in many regions of our state. Michigan businesses, families and individuals cannot afford nail biting and partisan bickering on this issue. Lawmakers cannot ignore the primary cost-drivers of the current no-fault system, including unlimited medical benefits; the lack of a reasonable fee schedule to adequately reimburse providers for medical services, but stop excessive charges and cost-shifting; and out-of-control reimbursements to family caregivers.

Although it would be easy for lawmakers to pass half-baked reforms, mandate a premium reduction and call it good, motorists deserve more than window dressing. It’s time to stop kicking the proverbial can down the road and rein in the primary cost-drivers. Bold action is needed to drive down costs for motorists and job providers.

Wendy Block

Michigan Chamber of Commerce

Information essential to improving education

I’ve experienced firsthand the challenges of improving student achievement at Oakland Schools, and previously as superintendent of Southfield Public Schools. Without question, the needs of a student in Southeast Michigan can vary greatly from a student in West Michigan, the Thumb or the U.P.

In its editorial, “Keep high standards for schools,” Sept. 1, The Detroit News notes the most recent Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, results provided disappointing third-grade reading and writing scores. The News argues the state must provide parents and educators with the best testing data to gauge student achievement.

But the first step toward improving student outcomes across Michigan is to have the very best, most accurate and reliable information on what it costs to educate all public school students, regardless of their location, income, learning challenges or other circumstances.

That’s why I’m proud to serve on the School Finance Research Collaborative, a diverse and bipartisan group of business leaders and education experts from metro Detroit to the U.P. who agree we need to rethink how Michigan’s public schools are funded. The current system is failing our students and we must reconsider our approach for all students to achieve and succeed. The Collaborative is supporting a school funding adequacy study, with results expected in early 2018, that will provide the best possible data on what it truly costs to provide a high-quality education to all Michigan public school students. We must have this information in hand to give all students a leg-up toward bright and successful futures.

Wanda Cook-Robinson

superintendent, Oakland Schools

School Finance Research Collaborative member

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