morris hood en From Michigan's U.P. to Detroit, political allies from the unlikeliest of places <p>A lawmaker from the Upper Peninsula says every region in the state could benefit from a strong and vibrant Detroit.</p><p>Republican state Senator Tom Casperson has become an unlikely advocate for a regional transit system in southeast Michigan that would connect Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw counties.</p><p>Casperson&rsquo;s district in the U.P. would not benefit directly from the transit system. But the U.P. could benefit long term from newfound political ties to Detroit.</p> Fri, 02 Mar 2012 11:36:31 +0000 Laura Weber 6460 at From Michigan's U.P. to Detroit, political allies from the unlikeliest of places Budget bills start rolling through Senate <p>The Republican-led state Senate has started approving parts of the budget.</p><p>That includes a bill that cuts funding for public universities by 15 percent.</p><p>Universities could face bigger cuts if they don&rsquo;t hold tuition increases at or below 7.1 percent.</p><p>Democratic state Senator Morris Hood says tuitions are already too high.</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Our profound disinvestment has led to tuition increase after tuition increase, making a degree even harder to attain,&quot; said Hood. &quot;We&rsquo;re passing this problem onto our already struggling constituents. Budgets are about priorities, and I think we are sending a clear message; the wrong message.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Republican leaders in the Legislature expect to wrap up work on the budget quickly and easily in comparison with recent years.</p><p>The budget bills will volley between the Senate and House over the next week as lawmakers try to wrap up work on the budget by next Tuesday.</p><p>Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he does not anticipate any big battles between the Republican-controlled chambers. But he says there may be a few hang-ups over schools funding.</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The K-12 budget is one of the more complicated budgets and made some adjustments during targets,&quot; said Richardville. &quot;That one being also being one of the biggest budgets has the highest propensity to have some problems with it. But I think those problems will be mostly technical. I don&rsquo;t anticipate any problems with getting the budgets passed.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Democrats are upset that additional funds for K-through-12 schools will not go directly to reduce cuts to per-pupil funding. Additional projected tax revenue will instead go toward districts that approve cost-saving measures, and make retirement payments. Tue, 24 May 2011 20:50:49 +0000 Laura Weber 2630 at