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.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Snow blankets most of the state

Most of the Lower Peninsula is blanketed in snow as an overnight storm brought up to 9 inches in some areas, creating a potentially treacherous morning commute and causing many school districts to cancel classes. 

Three to 7 inches of snow are expected in parts of mid and West Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press. Areas of Southeast Michigan received up to 5 inches of snow. Parts of the northern Lower Peninsula could get up to 9 inches. 

Snow is expected to continue throughout the morning, and it should taper off by around noon, the paper reported. 

Gov. Snyder releases budget proposal

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder released his annual budget proposal Thursday morning. 

"Sixty-one percent of the total investments we’re recommending are either for savings or education. This is a responsible budget. This is a budget to look to that long term, and learn from our past mistakes," Snyder said in his announcement. 

Among his priorities were increasing taxes to help pay for upkeep of the state's roads. Snyder proposed raising the gas tax to 33 cents a gallon for all types of fuel. He also wants to raise vehicle registration fees. 

Michigan Radio's Mark Brush has a run down of Snyder's other budget priorities, which include increasing funding for all levels of education and expanding medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. 

Detroit charter school teachers vote to unionize

Teachers at Detroit's largest charter school voted overwhelmingly last night to be represented by a union. 

The teachers and staff at Cesar Chavez academy voted by a 2-1 margin to have the American Federation of Teachers represent them, Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports. 

Only a small number of Michigan’s charter schools have unionized employees.

Nate Walker is with the AFT. He expects teachers in some other Michigan charter schools will also unionize this year.

“I think in the future we can certainly expect more collective bargaining campaigns,” says Walker,  “But we can also expect charter school teachers to engage in the policy discussions that impact them.”

- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom

LiveStream

Want to know someone's priorities? Follow the money.

Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled his vision for the state by delivering his proposed budget today to the state Legislature.

"Sixty-one percent of the total investments we’re recommending are either for savings or education. This is a responsible budget. This is a budget to look to that long term, and learn from our past mistakes," said Snyder.

Here are some of the highlights of his budget proposals:

Taxes for road repair and maintenance

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will unveil his budget this morning at 11 a.m.

Then the leaders in the Legislature will wrestle with the numbers and push their priorities for state spending and income.

Watch Snyder's budget unveiling here:

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Gov. Snyder releases his numbers today

At 11 a.m., Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to unveil his budget to the state Legislature. It'll then be up to those representatives to wrestle with the numbers and come up with a final budget for the state. Among the things he's expected to call for:

  • After years of cuts, he'll call for a 2 percent increase in public education funding
  • More funding for road construction
  • And an expansion of Medicaid

More details emerge on I-75 crash, trooper saves one girl

More details came out yesterday on the deadly pileup on I-75 near Detroit the morning of Jan. 31.

A whiteout caused 12 crashes involving 43 cars on the Interstate. There were 12 injuries and 3 fatalities.

This morning, the Detroit News has more on Michigan State Trooper Seth Swanson's actions:

After failing to find a pulse on the first two children, Swanson went to the other side of the car, broke out the rear window with a hammer and reached in to see if the third child, a 10-year-old girl, was still alive. She had a faint pulse.

He cleared her airway and administered rescue breaths until she finally took a deep breath and regained consciousness.

And more snow is on the way, so drive carefully

Snow is expected for the entire state starting this evening. The middle of the state is expected to get the most snowfall. From the National Weather Service:

This system has the potential to generate heavy snowfall. 7 to 11 inches is expected north of M 46 and near Lake Huron, while 3 to 8 inches is possible for areas across the rest of Southeast Lower Michigan.

Mark Torregrossa from MLive says computer models for storms like this can predict higher snowfalls. His prediction is 4 to 9 inches for the middle of the state, and 1 to 4 inches for the rest of the state.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

News out of Lansing: Governor Snyder announced  today that he supports expanding Medicaid eligibility to hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents without insurance.

The expansion comes under the Obama administration's health care overhaul.... and there are benefits for states that decide to expand Medicaid. The federal government will pick up the entire cost in the first three years... and 90 percent over the long haul.

But, Snyder is likely to run into resistance from fellow Republicans who are opposed to the Affordable Health Care law.

Meanwhile, the Governor is also gearing up to deliver his budget proposal for fiscal year 2013-2014 tomorrow. You could say, unveiling the proposal begins the "debate" (sometimes putting that kindly) in Lansing over what should and should not be funded.

So which programs and initiatives could be winners? And which could be losers in the Governor's spending plan? And in what the Legislature ultimately does with it?

Cyndy talked with Chris Gautz, Capitol Correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business and Dave Eggart, the Lansing reporter for the Associated Press.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A private company will start picking up Flint’s residential trash next month.

Emergency Financial Manager Ed Kurtz says Republic Services can handle Flint’s waste collection for a million dollars a year less than the city can itself.    The two sides signed a contract this week. 

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Snyder to decide this week whether to expand Medicaid

In his budget address this week, Gov. Rick Snyder will announce whether he'll expand Medicaid. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay for the state to allow an additional 400,000 people in the state to receive Medicaid coverage. The state would eventually have to pay for a portion of the costs, Rick Pluta reports.

Snyder to propose adding $50 to $100 million to Rainy Day Fund

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to recommend that the state add $50 to $100 million to its Budget Stabilization Fund, better known as the Rainy Day Fund. Some Democrats argue though that now is not the time to be saving. The Detroit Free Press quotes Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

"For lots of families, it is raining right now," Jacobs said.  "There really is the opportunity to take a portion of the money that is in the Rainy Day Fund and use it for families that are experiencing hardship."

Chrysler pays tribute to troops, farmers in two Super Bowl ads

Chrysler's two Super Bowl ads were among the most well-received auto advertisements according to the Detroit Free Press. Chrysler's first ad, voiced by Oprah Winfrey, was a Jeep spot that paid tribute to the military. Their second commercial, an ad for Ram pickup trucks, featured the late radio personality Paul Harvey reading "So God Made a Farmer."

The ad took 9th place in MSU's annual Super Bowl Ad rankings.

- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom

 

Western Michigan University's Main Campus
user TheKuLeR / Wikimedia Commons

Western Michigan University says it's raising tuition 3.9 percent for the coming academic year, reports the AP.

Trustees at the Kalamazoo school approved the increase today. The school says instate freshmen and sophomores will pay $9,982 in tuition and mandatory fees in 2012-13. That's up $376 from the current academic year.

Western Michigan says with the increase, the school is 10th in cost among the 15 Michigan public universities.

Out-of-state freshmen and sophomores will pay $23,262 for the academic year.

The trustees approved an operating budget of $349 million for the 2012-13 year.

Last year, Michigan Radio's reported on public university tuition increases for the 2012-2011 academic year:

This year for in-state undergraduates, tuition has increased by:

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Last night,  a reluctant Lansing City Council approved a plan to eliminate a nearly two million dollar budget deficit.   Lansing's fiscal year concludes at the end of this week.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint residents will get a chance this afternoon to have their say about a proposed fee increase to pay for city streetlights.    But what they say may not be enough to prevent the fee from going into effect.

The city of Flint pays for keeping its streetlights lit with money from the city’s general fund.

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