2013 state budget

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If you need a vital record in Michigan, you'll likely pay more.

MLive's Jonathan Oosting reports a bill recently passed by the state Senate now heads to Gov. Snyder's desk:

Under House Bill 4786, the basic fee for a vital record search will rise from $26 to $34, while an authenticated copy of a birth, death, marriage or divorce record will rise from $29 to $42. Creation of new birth or death certificate will rise from $40 to $50.

Recent budgets for the Department of Community Health have assumed $5.5 million a year in vital records collections, but according to the Senate Fiscal Agency, revenues have come up short in recent years, leaving a $1.5 million structural deficit that the increased fees are designed to remedy.

Gov. Snyder

It was a little late (they were shooting for June 1), but they got it done.

Michigan Gov. Snyder signed the budget into law this afternoon. After doing so they took to social media to fluff their feathers about their accomplishment:

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

A push for change in Michigan term limits

There are efforts underway to change Michigan’s term limits amendment. Representative Joe Havemen (R-Holland) says the current lifetime limit of six years to serve in the House and eight years in the Senate are too short and consequently, legislators are lacking experience. Term limits were approved by Michigan voters ten years ago, and changing that amendment would also require voter approval.

Town hall to be held for road repairs

Lawmakers are expected to discuss how to pay for improvements to the state’s roadways at a town hall meeting tonight in Grand Rapids. Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith reports, "the public will get a chance to weigh in on Governor Snyder’s proposal to raise more than a billion dollars a year. Snyder wants to raise vehicle registration fees and the gas tax to cover the costs, but the Legislature passed a budget last week that only included a fraction of the money he wanted."

Michigan faces class action lawsuit from students

The state of Michigan may be facing a class action lawsuit over a student loan program. Starting in 2003 the Michigan Students First program provided a subsidy to people after they paid their first 36 loan payments on time, but that subsidy ended in 2010. Attorney Jeff Hank says that left thousands of Michiganders with much more to pay on their student loans. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that the lawsuit could end up costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

The state budget is on its way to Governor Snyder for his signature, while there is an investment of $65 million in early education, the Governor did not get three of his major priorities met. Medicaid expansion, transportation funding, and Common Core for K-12 education.

"He [Snyder] can't afford to sort of roll over all the time on the conservative agenda items, where he signs everything they want without getting them [conservatives] to agree to pass some of his high priority items," says Sikkema. 

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Budget awaits Governor Snyder's signature

State lawmakers passed a budget that would increase funding to local governments and schools.

"Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville calls it the best budget he’s ever helped pass.  But the budget does not include Snyder’s request to expand Medicaid or increase road funding by more than a billion dollars," Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Senate voting to protect DIA

The Michigan Senate is expected to vote today on a measure to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr has warned the Institute's assets could be at risk if the city goes bankrupt. If this bill passes, the same protections would apply to collections in other museums across Michigan.

Michigan gas prices amongst highest in nation

Gasoline prices in Michigan are the second highest in the United States right now. It could be several weeks before there's any relief at the pump.

"Analyst Patrick deHaan of GasBuddy dot com says there are fewer gasoline refineries in the Midwest than other parts of the country, and gasoline commodity traders are also driving up the prices," Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports.

State lawmakers are getting close to wrapping next year’s budget. The state House has passed bills to fund schools and state government through next fiscal year.

Public School Funding

Every school would see at least a five-dollar per-pupil boost. Schools getting the minimum amount from the state could receive up to $60 more per student.
    
Democratic state Representative Brandon Dillon says he’s happy no schools will see cuts in state support, but he says it still doesn’t come close to adequately funding public schools.

"You know, it’s better than last year," he said. "But our standards for excellence in school funding have diminished significantly. And it’s still not enough to educate kids, especially kids in high poverty, high needs districts, and our urban districts."

Democrats are also criticizing the bill for cutting funds that would go toward implementing the federal Common Core curriculum standards in schools.

They say those funding cuts put Michigan schools at risk of losing federal dollars.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss the sentencing of former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway, former Congressman’s Mark Schauer’s run for governor, and a proposed funding increase for education in the state budget this year.

Preschool-age boy practicing writing his name at a table in a Head Start classroom.
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

"It's certainly a good day for early childhood advocates." - Matt Gillard of the Michigan Sandbox Party

Dustin Dwyer from our State of Opportunity team has more on the expected increase for early childhood education in Michigan:

The annual legislative brawl over how to spend the state's money is expected to come to a close this week in Lansing. The budgets currently under consideration include many changes. One of the biggest is a nearly 60 percent increase in the state's funding for early education.

The governor initially proposed a $65 million increase for the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) in his budget. The proposal went back and forth as it made its way through the legislature this year, but it's now looking like the governor will get his way.

Read his full report here.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

We take a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

The Michigan legislature has come to an agreement on targets for the state budget. The state is carrying a surplus of $483 million more than projected for just the current fiscal year. So, what does that surplus tell us about the state’s fiscal health?

Listen to the full interview above.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There’s a tentative budget deal between Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature’s Republican leaders.

It puts more money into savings, schools, and roads. But, it also delays decisions on some of the governor’s priorities.

A budget windfall will allow the state to sock away more in savings, provide a boost to schools, and come up with enough money to qualify for federal matching funds to pay for some road repairs.

But House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) says it doesn’t solve the problem of how to come up with an additional $1.2 billion for roads.

“This provides a solid down payment on our transportation needs. However, that’s all it is. It’s not a full solution. This is a down payment,” said Bolger.

Road funding is especially difficult with a Legislature that’s been opposed to higher gas taxes and registration fees.

There’s also no arrangement to take federal money to expand Medicaid eligibility.

Bolger says those discussions are ongoing.

“We’re going to continue our conservative budget based on existing sources,” he said. “We’re not going to plan for dollars or answers that aren’t there yet. So, Medicaid has not been answered.” 

The governor says Medicaid expansion under the federal healthcare law will save Michigan taxpayers money, but Republicans in the Legislature are not on board.  

Bolger says the governor and the Legislature are on track to get the new budget wrapped up by their deadline of June 1.

With approval by the U.S. State Department, the plan to build a new, second bridge from Detroit to Windsor is moving forward. On today's show we take a look at the community in Detroit where the bridge will be built.

Just what will happen to the Delray neighborhood? And, then, we'll speak with a woman who has hiked the shorelines of all five Great Lakes.

But first to the state Capitol, where we saw a flurry of voting last week as lawmakers put together the next state budget.

It's expected to total about $48 billion.


The Republican-controlled state House approved spending for schools and colleges as well as a budget to fund the rest of state government.

The state Senate, also controlled by Republicans, approved about half of its budget plan with more votes scheduled this week.

Now, these votes set the stage for negotiations between the two Chambers in May because the goal in Lansing is to get the budget complete by June 1st.

Joining us are Chad Livengood, Lansing reporter for The Detroit News, and Chris Gautz, Capitol Correspondent for Crain’s Detroit Business.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers don't agree on how much money to set aside in Michigan's savings account.

The rainy day fund was nearly empty when the Republican governor took office after a decade of job losses and budget crises. He successfully built it back up to more than $500 million and is hoping to add another $75 million.

Snyder says a healthy cash reserve is good for the state's credit rating and prudent in case there are future economic downturns.

But the GOP-led Senate next week is expected to approve a budget without extra money in the account. Some legislators say savings are robust and the $75 million should go to other priorities instead.

The House is more in line with Snyder. Lawmakers will negotiate their differences next month.

Judy van der Velden / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Republican-led state House is looking to do away with tax incentives that lure moviemakers to Michigan so the money instead goes toward road maintenance.

The House on Tuesday stripped $25 million in tax credits it planned to set aside for the film industry.

The funding would go to the state and local governments for road repairs.

The House also cut $25 million from an economic-development fund and allocated it for roads.

The full House is expected to vote on its budget Wednesday, setting the stage for negotiations with the Senate and Gov. Rick Snyder next month.

So far the GOP-controlled Senate and governor are looking to designate at least $25 million in incentives for Hollywood - half the amount in the current budget.

Michael Gil / Flickr

Governor Snyder was crystal-clear in his State of the State address. Michigan’s roads are creaky, old and need to be fixed.

Just about everyone agrees with that. The big question is how to pay for those badly-needed repairs.

Governor Snyder wants to spend $1.2 billion each year for these road repairs. He’s proposed raising our gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

These proposals are not getting a lot of love, especially among Republicans who are not fans of anything that looks, smells, or sounds like a tax increase.

Which leads us to another idea afoot in Lansing. An idea that proposes that we can find the money from our existing budget, rather than increase revenue.

We welcomed the Capitol Correspondent at Crain’s Detroit Business Chris Gautz and Lansing reporter for the Detroit News Chad Livengood to discuss these ideas.

To hear the full story click the audio link above.

The house I live in is 84 years old. Two winters ago, an ancient sewer pipe broke under our basement. This meant a mess and fairly expensive work. Was that convenient? No. Could we have spent that money in ways that would have been a lot more fun? Absolutely. But building and using an outhouse in the middle of a Michigan winter didn’t seem an appealing alternative.

Which brings us to the governor’s transportation budget. He wants to increase the gas tax by 14 cents a gallon and increase car and light truck annual registration fees by 60 percent, which sounds pretty steep. They say that will cost, on an average, $120 a year per car. It will cost me more, since I drive 30,000 miles a year. Money is tight for a lot of us.

Graham Davis / flickr

On Thursdays we talk politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

On tap today: Governor Rick Snyder presented his budget proposal. It included a 2% increase in funding for K-12 education, $130 million increase for Great Start, an increase in transportation funding, and an expansion of Medicaid.

cncphotos / flickr

In this week in Michigan politics, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss Governor Rick Snyder’s upcoming budget address, the final days of the Kwame Kilpatrick trial, and how 200 administrators in Grand Rapids Public Schools got pink slipped.

Richard D. McLellan
Richard D. McLellan / Wikimedia Commons

An overhaul of how Michigan pays for public schools could be on the way. Gov. Rick Snyder wants that to be a big part of his budget proposal in early 2013.  The governor has named Lansing attorney Richard McLellan to lead the process.
    
McLellan says the state’s funding system is overdue for a shakeup.

“This is a 1979 law. It’s quite out of date," he said. "It’s a school district-centric model that doesn’t necessarily provide the flexibility for parents and for students that people are now demanding."

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State lawmakers have passed a budget plan for most of state government for next year.

The House and Senate passed an Omnibus spending bill that covers all of state government, except education.   The state House passed the bill on a 61 to 49 vote.   The bill passed the state Senate on a 20 to 16 vote.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

City residents are questioning how Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero plans to spend money from a recent property tax hike.

The tax hike was approved last year. Many voters expected the money would be spent to hire back dozens of police officers and firefighters laid off in recent years. But Mayor Bernero's plan calls for bringing back just seven public safety officers.

Bernero says he’d like to hire more cops, but the city can’t afford it.

"I’m not going to hire people that I’ve got to turn around and fire tomorrow. I’m not going to do it," says Bernero.

Some Lansing city council members complain the mayor wants to spend money on rehabbing a building for the police department. That's money they say could be spent hiring police officers.

Brian Jeffries is the Lansing City Council president. He wants more money spent on rehiring laid off police officers and firefighters.

"We thought we’d get more police out there.  That’s what we thought.   We thought we’d get more fire personnel out there," says Jeffries, "Basically all we’re being told is this is just going to back stop any future losses.”

The city council has until the middle of May to approve or change the mayor’s budget proposal. The council will hold its own public hearing tonight.