budget

Salt trucks
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Advance word from forecasters: This winter could be a replay of the not-to-be-forgotten winter of 2013-2014.

That is not good news for counties still reeling from the costs of clearing record amounts of snow from the roads.

Roy Townsend, Managing Director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, says the brutal winter last year cost the county nearly $1 million more than what a typical winter would cost. That's between the increased salt price, overtime pay for staff, and extra wear and tear on the equipment. 

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In 1980, Michigan’s corrections budget was 3% of the state’s general fund. Now it is 20% of the general fund. What caused this increase?

Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Stateside to answer this question.

He said it is a result of the "tough-on-crime" approach that started in the 1980s.

“Just throwing people into prison and keeping them there for ever-longer periods of time just isn’t really working,” Sikkema said. “It’s not driving down crime rates, it’s taking a lot of taxpayer money, and there are voices now saying 'let’s take a look at this.'"

Sikkema said a lot of the voices raising concerns and calling for review of corrections are conservative voices. Michigan has a higher cost per prisoner than the average around the country, and those prisoners serve longer sentences. Both contribute greatly to the high corrections budget.

*Listen to the full story above. 

State Capitol
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This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss how Michigan businesses will be affected by the US Supreme Court ruling that corporations don't have to include contraceptive coverage for employees for religious reasons, what the state is doing to prevent more felons from being home health care workers for Medicaid patients, and the new budget bill for the state.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
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State lawmakers are waist-deep in the big budget process. The mission is to iron out the differences in what the governor wants and what the House and Senate are willing to give.

It's looking like many differing views add up to lots of haggling, lots of need for compromise, and it has one State Senator talking like Mr. T as Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. 

Kathy Gray of the Detroit Free Press joined us to explain why Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Roger Kahn is predicting "pain". 

Listen to the story above.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

President Obama’s 2015 budget includes some cuts to Great Lakes programs.

Obama is asking for $275 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. That would be $25 million less than the current funding level.

Todd Ambs is the campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. He says if the cuts go through, you'd see projects slow down.

“Whether it’s a contaminated cleanup project that’s underway but not completed, or a habitat restoration effort or dealing with the problems of keeping aquatic invasive species out of the Great Lakes.”

NOAA

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockely discuss the trial challenging Michigan's same-sex marriage ban, the mayor of Flint's proposal to fight blight in the city, and what President Obama's budget proposal could mean for Michigan.

michigan.gov

This Week in Michigan Politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the governor’s race, Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal and farm bill.

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Lawmakers kick off 2014 with a budget surplus

"The state Legislature has kicked off its 2014 session. One of the first big debates of the new year will be about what to do with a projected budget surplus. Early estimates suggest the state will have hundreds of millions of dollars more than it expected," Rick Pluta reports.

State regulators investigate utilities' response to massive power outage

"State regulators will investigate how Michigan’s two largest electric utilities responded to a massive power outage last month. State regulators will not be investigating how the Lansing Board of Water and Light handled the same outage. They do not have jurisdiction over municipal utilities," Steve Carmody reports.

Polar vortex could stave off invasive species

"It might be difficult to think of this week's deep freeze as anything good, but scientists say the extreme cold could slow the migration of invasive species and kill some of the insect pests that have ravaged forests. Heavy ice could also prevent erosion and protect wetlands along big lakes," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow will be among a large group of Democratic U.S. Senators and a small group of Republican senators expected to vote to approve a budget compromise tomorrow.   

The budget bill will allow the federal government to operate without the threat of a shutdown for two years.

Stabenow says the compromise bill is an important bi-partisan step.

“It allows us to reinvest in education…in innovation to grow the economy…while continuing to focus on long-term deficit reductions. I think it’s a very important step,” says Stabenow.

Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy / UM's Ford School of Public Policy

Michigan's cities, towns, and villages are seeing an overall improvement in their ability to meet their financial needs, but hundreds continue to struggle. That's according to an annual report by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy.

The report finds that smaller municipalities are having a tougher time than those with populations of more than 30,000. And municipalities in central Michigan and the southern lower Peninsula have been particularly hard hit.

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Michigan schools got about a 3% boost in funding under the state budget passed last month in Lansing, but a new report says that might not be sustainable.

The non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan says the extra money could be wiped out after next year. 

Bob Schneider is the group's state affairs director.

"Unless we find new revenue growth that isn't anticipated yet, or the state draws upon additional general fund resources, or other resources to bring them into the School Aid Budget, the K-12 schools are looking to potentially have to give back a good chunk of the gains that they've made."

The report projects a budget shortfall of about $240 million for the School Aid Budget in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Schneider says that's partly because of additional state spending commitments to things like teacher retirement and early childhood education.

Michigan almost has a final budget for the next fiscal year, at almost $50 billion dollars.

Lawmakers and Governor Snyder's tentative deadline for completion was June 1, which they didn't quite make, but the budget should be finished this week.

Chad Livengood, a Lansing reporter for the Detroit News, and Chris Gautz, a Capitol Correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business spoke with Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty about what we can look for in the budget.

"There's not a lot of big, huge things in it. The governor didn't get everything he wanted -- he didn't get the $1.2 billion more for roads and didn't get authorization to add more to a Medicare expansion," Livengood said.

Gautz and Livengood identified specific funding changes in the budget, including a huge boost in early childhood education funding.

To hear the full audio, click the link above. 

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice sentenced to jail time

“Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway was sentenced to one year and one day in federal custody, for the crime of bank fraud. Federal prosecutors say Diane Hathaway illegally concealed a million dollars in assets, so she could qualify for favorable terms on a short sale of one of her homes in Michigan. The defendant had hoped to avoid prison time,” Michigan Radio's Vincent Duffy reports.

Michigan schools could see increase in state funding

“Michigan public schools would see more state funding under a budget plan approved by the state House. 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 dollars more per student. The state Senate is expected to take up the education budget today,” Michigan Radio’s Jake Neher reports.

Strong winds and funnel clouds cause damage in Michigan

"The National Weather Service reported several funnel cloud sightings in Michigan last night, including a tornado that landed near Goodrich High School southeast of Flint. No injuries were immediately reported. The weather service says high winds in the same severe thunderstorm system heavily damaged several homes, toppling numerous trees and power lines," the Associated Press reports.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan could take in $542 million more in revenue than projected 4 months ago.

That's according to a report Monday from the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency. It's good news for lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder as they work to finalize a state budget for the fiscal year starting in October.

Senate experts say Michigan could have a $739 million surplus in the current budget year. The extra money could be used to boost spending, lower taxes or be socked away in savings.

The Snyder administration and economists are meeting Wednesday to agree on budget figures. The House Fiscal Agency and state treasurer also will put out revenue projections for the meeting.

Legislators aim to pass the next budget by June, though sticking points remain over Medicaid expansion and road funding.

Ifmuth / Flickr

Last week, we saw a flurry of voting at the State Capitol as lawmakers put together the next state budget, which is 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.

The votes set the stage for negotiations between the two chambers in May.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A state House budget panel is recommending cutting more than a thousand human service workers. The Michigan Department of Human Services handles things like child welfare and food assistance.

The subcommittee’s plan would also close the state’s three juvenile justice facilities.

Rashida Tlaib is the top Democrat on the panel. She says the proposed cuts are extreme.

AARP

Next week, President Barack Obama will present his budget to Congress. 

There's a lot of speculation about what changes will be proposed for Medicare and Social Security.

Specifically, some analysts are focusing on something called 'chained CPI.'

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is expected to vote tonight on a plan that may set the stage for the city to emerge from state oversight. 

The council will consider asking the governor to appoint a “receivership transition advisory board.”    

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says the board would guide the city after the departure of the emergency manager.

“This is an area of the law that we want to take advantage of,” says Walling, “We want assistance with our revenue estimates…with budget amendments.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero will deliver his proposed city budget for the next year to the city council tomorrow. 

The mayor’s proposed budget is expected to deal with a projected nine million dollar budget shortfall.

A team appointed by Mayor Bernero suggested deep contract concessions by the city’s police and fire unions, among other cuts.

Tom Krug is the executive director with the local Fraternal Order of Police.

He says Lansing police officers have already agreed to more than a million dollars in contract concessions since 2009.

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