Report: Collective bargaining, foster care among state programs in jeopardy because of Prop 2
Marisa Schultz / The Detroit News
LANSING -- Proposal 2 does not end the promotion of diversity in the state of Michigan but it has put eight state programs in jeopardy, according to a report released today by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
State statutes that appear to violate the new constitutional amendment are in the areas of collective bargaining agreements, foster care, higher education, Commission on Spanish Speaking Affairs, minority- and women-owned businesses, minority student grants, single business tax credits and special-needs adoption.
"It would be wrong to say that Proposal 2 has not had an impact on state operations. * These are real services to real people in the state of Michigan," said Linda V. Parker, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, which prepared the report on behalf of the commission.
In November, 58 percent of Michigan voters approved Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment that bans the use of race and gender preferences in university admissions and government hiring and contracting.
Two days after the election, on Nov. 9, Gov. Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order to the commission to study the impact of Proposal 2 on state government programs and how to preserve diversity within the confines of the new law.
Members of the department interviewed leaders at 17 state departments and six other state agencies. The secretary of state and attorney general departments declined to be interviewed, Parker said.
With two exceptions, none of the departments or agencies used affirmative action plans that discriminate or use preferential treatment in their hiring or contracting processes. And the two departments that do -- the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality -- must retain these affirmative action programs in order to comply with federal law, the report said.
Proposal 2's language makes an exception for programs that are needed in order to maintain federal funding.
One of the most significant findings of the report, Parker said, is the opportunity for the state to pursue more federal funding, which would allow the promotion of diversity to continue.
"Federal funding to any state is a win/win. Under Proposal 2, federal funding which has affirmative action requirements attached to it are not a violation of Proposal 2 and we have an opportunity to pursue that," Parker said.
However, some proponents of Proposal 2 questioned whether the pursuit for more federal funding would be an attempt to skirt the law.
"I have a fear that you are going to try to use this to circumvent Prop 2 and the will of the people," Chetly Zarko, a former communications director for the group that got Prop 2 on the ballot, told the commission . "We will be watching you."
Zarko and others have challenged whether the federal government actually requires contractors to use preferential treatment.
Now the report will head to the governor. It will be up to her, lawmakers and state departments to review the recommendations and decide what action to take.
You can reach Marisa Schultz at (313) 222-2310 or at [log in to unmask]