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2017 state budget

On the surface, yesterday was a pretty good day for Michigan. The state announced that the cities of Pontiac and Lincoln Park were both being released from receivership.

The treasurer’s office said both of these aging cities had made considerable strides toward getting their acts and their finances in order. I think that is true, but I also think the state would like to get them off the books. Ever since the mess in Flint, the whole idea of having the state take over and run cities has lost a lot of appeal.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

The legislature has passed a state budget, and it’s headed to Governor Snyder’s desk for approval.

Stateside talked to two reporters covering the capitol and Lansing to go over some of the Highlights in the budget. Kyle Melinn is the editor of MIRS, a news service that covers state government. Rick Pluta is the Captol bureau chief for Michigan Radio.

Capitol Building in Lansing, MI
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A $56.7 billion state budget is headed toward Gov. Rick Snyder's desk after the Republican-led state Senate gave it final approval on mostly party-line votes.

The bills approved Thursday include more money for K-12 schools, universities and community colleges. There is less funding for prison spending and environmental cleanup.

The Michigan state capitol building
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There’s no end yet to the standoff between Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature’s Republican leaders that’s delayed wrapping up the state budget. But they are talking again.

 

 

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Michigan's 15 public universities would get an overall 2 percent boost in state funding under legislation ironed out by lawmakers.

A Republican-led conference committee voted 5-1 for the $1.6 billion higher education budget bill Tuesday, with one Democrat in opposition. Schools' funding increases would range from 1.5 percent to 2.7 percent. Five universities' state aid would remain below levels from seven years ago.

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For the first time since he's been governor, the leaders from the state House and Senate have signed a target budget agreement without Rick Snyder's input. House Speaker Tom Leonard and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof want to close the pension system for new Michigan teachers and only offer a 401k. Governor Snyder's not a fan of that idea.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Lawmakers are ramping up work on the state budget after cutting Gov. Rick Snyder out of talks.

Republican leaders over the weekend set "target" spending levels - a key step needed before the House and Senate this week can start ironing out differences in a $55 billion spending plan. The leaders proceeded despite an impasse with the Republican governor over closing the pension system to newly-hired school employees.

student protestor
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The state Senate Judiciary Committee this week heard testimony on campus free speech legislation. This comes on the heels of some high profile cases in which appearances by controversial speakers were derailed by campus protests. This Week in Review, Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss whether campus free speech legislation is necessary.

They also look at legislation that would limit when a state administrative rule can be stricter than a federal rule, new projections that show there's less money than anticipated heading to the state's general fund, and another delay in the completion of an unfinished jail in downtown Detroit.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

The State of Michigan received some good news and some bad news this week. Projections show income tax revenue over the next couple of years will likely be less than expected: around $300 million less for the state’s general fund.

But the sales tax-based School Aid Fund is projected to bring in more than expected – about $340 million more.

What impact would having part-time Legislators have on Michigan?
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Republican legislative leaders remain committed to closing the pension system to new teachers and instead giving them a 401(k) after getting mixed news about tax revenues.

Money with bottle of pills
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The stalled Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act cleared a big hurdle this week. Lawmakers in the U.S. House passed the bill -- thanks in part to a last minute addition from Michigan Congressman Fred Upton. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about Upton's amendment and what the bill could mean for Michigan.

They also discuss a state Court of Appeals ruling that teachers can drop out of their union whenever they like, another attempt by lawmakers to scrap and replace pensions for new teachers, and budget proposals that passed the state House and Senate this week. 

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Budget talks in the House and Senate may close Michigan's pension program for new teachers.

Supporters say this would help ease Michigan's growing debt. But others say pension cuts would hurt a profession that's already struggling.

David Crim is with the Michigan Education Association.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

The Michigan House of Representatives approved a spending bill last night that would provide $39.5 billion in general spending.  The bill passed 60-47, mostly along party lines.

The Republican majority says the plan would fund priorities such as roads and public safety and give local governments more in revenue sharing than under Snyder's plan. It would also add $265 million to savings, as requested by the Republican governor.

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan Republican legislators are divided when it comes to the budget.

The Detroit News reports the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services cut energy assistance and food aid in what’s known as “Heat and Eat.”

So far about $200 million face cuts from Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed budget. Senator Jim Marleau, who chairs the subcommittee, says he’s received marching orders from Senate Republican leaders in an attempt to cut the state income tax or pay down state debt.

I’m not often astonished by the things legislators do, especially since our politics have been afflicted by the disease of term limits, a condition that means virtually none of those in leadership positions have enough experience to properly do their jobs.

While one Democrat from the Upper Peninsula supported it, a dozen Republicans thumbed their noses at the Speaker and voted "no."

When I learned about this, I had to check to make sure the world was still spinning on its axis and I was actually awake.

Well, at first glance it might look like the legislature came to its senses yesterday, at least so far cutting the state income tax is concerned. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

The lawmakers did drop the infantile notion of completely getting rid of the state income tax. They also backed away from cutting it from the current 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent overnight. But they still want to make that cut – just gradually, over the next four years.

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Gov. Rick Snyder rolled out his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year this week. Not everyone is happy, including some members of Snyder's own party. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lesseberry take a closer look at the governor's proposed budget. 

They also talk about the Detroit school board's threat to sue the state over possible school closures, Michigan's latest gubernatorial candidate, and the results of the state's election audit.

Two of the biggest topics of the week when it comes to Michigan politics involved the proposal to mandate employers to let workers earn paid sick time and the effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.
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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder released his budget proposal this week, and there's a lot of discussion about how the state's money will be spent, or not spent, in the upcoming year. 

The Michigan State Capitol
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Governor Snyder's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 came out this week.

One thing it did not contain is a tax cut. That's something many Republican lawmakers want to push through.

One such lawmaker is Laura Cox, chair of the House Appropriations Committee and Republican Representative for the 19th District, representing Livonia. Cox joined Stateside to talk about what she would like to see changed with Michigan's tax policy. 

Back in a more sincerely religious era, people used to say “Man proposes; God disposes.”

But when it comes to state budgets, it’s more a case of “the governor proposes; the legislature disposes.”

The governor proposed his budget for the next fiscal year yesterday, and as of now, members of his own party in the Legislature don’t seem to like it very much.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

After Senate hearings, debates, protests, a Saturday Night Live parody, and an unprecedented tie-breaking vote by the vice president, Betsy DeVos is now the U.S. Secretary of Education. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what her confirmation process reveals about the state of affairs in Washington.

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

There’s a split emerging between Governor Rick Snyder and Republican leaders in the Legislature over cutting taxes.

Governor Snyder will present a budget next week for the coming fiscal year. Some Republican leaders in the Legislature are pushing for tax cuts. That includes an income tax rollback and some lawmakers are taking aim at the tax on pensions.

Snyder is pushing back. The pension tax was one of his first budget reforms after he took office in 2011. Snyder says that was only fair to people who were paying taxes on 401 (k) and other retirement plans.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Detroit school children, Flint residents and residents across Michigan will be affected when the next state budget takes effect in three months.

  Gov. Rick Snyder signed the $54.9 billion spending plan this week. It touches many corners of Michigan life - from spending on public schools and road repairs to increased dental coverage for low-income children and more troopers patrolling highways.

  Per-pupil grants for K-12 schools will increase by between $60 and $120. The gap between wealthier and poorer districts will shrink.

Empty classroom
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Governor Rick Snyder has approved an education budget which includes $2.5 million for private and religious schools.  That seems to be incongruent with the Michigan Constitution, which states:

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It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

With the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan to set the scene, Governor Snyder on Wednesday signed the new $38.8 billion state budget. 

There were some unexpected revenue shortfalls to deal with. State revenues came up more than $300 million short, largely due to corporate tax credits. There was also a $100 million spike in Medicaid payments. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is optimistic that Michigan’s budget plan for next year should be wrapped up in the next week or two. 

Time is running short. The state legislature is only has a few weeks until it is scheduled to adjourn for much of the summer and there is still a lot left to do.

The state senate is expected to tackle funding for Detroit public schools this week. Last week, the state house passed a $617 million package that Democrats complain does more to protect the interests of charter school operators than students.

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Michigan is closing one of its 32 prisons to save $22 million in the next fiscal year.

The Pugsley Correctional Facility in Grand Traverse County will close in September. The minimum security prison has more than 1,300 beds and 230 employees. It’s been open since 1956.

The corrections department made the announcement Tuesday, a day before a legislative committee is expected to endorse the closure in the next state budget.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s official. Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature have less money to work with than it appeared earlier in the year. Drops in corporate and sales tax revenues mean a budget hit of about $150 million in this fiscal year. The forecast also projects a $160 million drop for the coming fiscal year budget the governor and the Legislature are putting together right now.

John Roberts, Snyder’s budget director, says the administration will look for targeted spending cuts to meet the shortfall. And he thinks it can be done without jeopardizing money to address the Flint water crisis and the looming financial collapse of the Detroit Public Schools.

State has spent at least $3.6 million to pay workers in Flint's water crisis

May 16, 2016
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan has spent millions to pay officials and government workers scrambling to provide water, filters and other resources after lead contaminated Flint's water, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder does not appear to like a state Senate plan to close two prisons and lease a private prison.  

A Senate subcommittee approved the plan last week as a way to save $15 million.  

Snyder asks,“If you’re closing prisons, why lease another?”

“I view this as part of the normal budget process…..that wasn’t part of our budget recommendation,” Snyder told reporters.

Senators are proposing closing prisons to save money as Michigan’s prison population declines.