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Stateside: School starts without a budget; MLS future in Detroit; billionaire influence in Kalamazoo

A classroom with children sitting in desks facing a teacher
The Whitmer administration and state lawmakers have yet to nail down a state budget. That fiscal uncertainty has left school administrators struggling to plan for the new school year.

Today on Stateside, how are superintendents preparing for the upcoming school year in the absence of a state budget? Plus, we check in with a farmer to see how the ongoing trade war with China and this year’s unusual weather are impacting the soybean market. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

How a school district plans for the year when they have no budget from the state

Stateside’s conversation with Yvonne Camaal Canul

  • The Whitmer Administration and state lawmakers haven’t yet nailed down the next state budget, which has left school administrators in quite a bind. Yvonne Camaal Canul is the superintendent of Lansing Public Schools. She explains she’s planning for the school year despite the lack of a budget and she details what it will mean for her district if the state’s negotiation process continues past the October 1 deadline. 

Stadium issues prolong Detroit’s effort to land an MLS team

Stateside’s conversation with Bill Shea

  • Major League Soccer is gearing up to add three new teams by 2022. Is Detroit on the short list? Bill Shea covers the business of sports for The Athletic. He tells us how he would rate Detroit’s chances of getting one of these three expansion teams by 2022 and what the city would lose if it doesn’t get a team.

With wet spring and ongoing trade war, MI soybean farmers plow ahead

Stateside’s conversation with Laurie Isley

  • Between the ongoing trade war with China and one of the wettest planting seasons in recent memory, this year is one that Michigan farmers and growers won’t soon forget. Laurie Isley owns Sunrise Farms in Lenawee County, where she grows a thousand acres of corn and soybeans. She talks about how the trade war with China has affected her and other soybean growers in Michigan and whether she thinks this year’s historically wet spring could be the new normal.

Kalamazoo’s Foundation for Excellence tests the intersection of a city, its priorities, and its billionaires

Stateside’s conversation with Michelle Miller-Adams and Shannon Sykes-Nehring

  • When the city of Kalamazoo faced a massive budget shortfall, it was offered a lifeline: a $70.3 million donation from William Johnson and William Parfet, two of the city’s billionaires. Kalamazoo turned that donation into a $500 million foundation called the Foundation for Excellence, whose goal is to perpetually fund part of the city’s budget, reduce property taxes, and free the city to work on “aspirational projects.” Some see this move as a civic-minded way two billionaires have helped their city, while others wonder if it gives the foundation and wealthy donors outsized influence on public policy.
  • Michelle Miller-Adams is a political science professor at Grand Valley State University and a senior researcher at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Shannon Sykes-Nehring is a former Kalamazoo City Commissioner and regional organizer for We the People Michigan. They share their respective thoughts on the Foundation for Excellence and the impacts that they believe billionaire influence can have on local government.

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