2009.04.22 Dudley Spade: School bidding
This year, our schools have a chance to do even more to help support Michigan's economy and put our citizens back to work. Under a new law signed this January, they can choose to give a preference to our local, Michigan-based businesses over out-of-state competitors.
Over the last year, I worked with Lenawee Intermediate School District Superintendent Steve Krusich and other local education leaders to develop and pass HB 5639. This bill gives school boards the authority to establish a bidding preference policy for Michigan-based firms. I would like to thank Mr. Krusich for his work throughout the process and for his ongoing communication with area superintendents on this legislation. I believe our local media has also done an excellent job drawing attention to this issue.
Shortly after HB 5639 became law, the LISD Board amended its policies to grant preference to Michigan-based firms. Mr. Krusich also distributed the revised LISD policy to superintendents throughout Lenawee County to assist their boards in making similar changes.
School boards that vote to put that preference in their policy manual can take advantage of the new law, but the choice is theirs and they must act to take advantage of this flexibility. Unfortunately, it appears that at least one local school board has failed to make the necessary policy changes and, by their inaction, has done a disservice to local bidders and their employees who live in our communities. Let me be very clear. State law no longer requires the selection of the lowest bidder provided schools respond to the new law by making the necessary policy changes.
Getting the lowest price for quality work is important, particularly when we are spending taxpayer's money, but there are other factors to consider. The multiplier effect makes every dollar we spend in Michigan of even greater benefit to the economy. The person who lives and works in Michigan spends most of their money locally and supports the jobs of other Michigan residents. Their money also goes to local schools, the same schools that are contracting for new construction work and keeping folks employed. If we send local jobs down to Ohio or Indiana, saving a buck on the contract does not help much.
I believe that keeping work local and using Michigan-based contractors are important. Please join me in urging your local school boards to swiftly adopt a policy for this spring's contracting season.
– State Rep. Dudley Spade