The difference between how enhancement millages work and funding can be used over bonds and sinking funds.
Following years of inadequate school funding from the state, districts are banding together to pass a different kind of funding measure—Regional Enhancement Millages—which provides general fund dollars for operating costs.
The money raised from an enhancement millage goes to all public school districts within the boundaries of an Intermediate School District (ISD) if a majority of voters in the region approve it, such as the ballot measure for Macomb ISD on March 10.
Unlike bond measures, the money raised by a millage can be spent on whatever priorities a local community chooses, giving them local control and the ability to make decisions based on the needs of its children and schools.
Regional enhancement millages have been allowed under state law since the 1994 passage of Proposal A, the state Constitutional amendment that fundamentally altered the system of funding public education in Michigan to reduce disparities between rich and poor districts (in theory). Proposal A did not address funding for school facilities and infrastructure. In contrast to most states, the state of Michigan provides no funding for facilities in local districts. Facilities are funded entirely by local property tax revenues. School districts, with voter approval, have levied debt or sinking fund mills to pay for facilities and capital improvements. Without question, Michigan’s school facility funding generates serious equity and adequacy problems.
Since the passage of Proposal A, no single district can ask voters to raise taxes for general operating funds, but a group of districts within a region can do so, such as the Macomb Educational Enhancement Millage. In 25 years, only 8 out of 57 Michigan regions have passed enhancement millages—but five of those have come in just the past five years.