budget

www.michigan.gov

 It appears a budget deal between Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature’s Republican leaders could include an election year tax cut. An early version of the proposal would accelerate a drop in the state income tax rate and increase the personal exemption.

The governor and G-O-P leaders want to wrap up the budget by the end of next week.

 Governor Snyder says he was skeptical at first, but he says revenue projections look promising enough to at least start talking about a tax cut for individuals and families.

In the next few days, Lansing mayor Virg Bernero is expected to veto all or part of the budget plan the city council passed. 

Bernero indicated his intention to veto the budget during a sometimes contentious city council meeting last night.    He did little, if anything, to conceal his contempt for the changes the city council made to the budget plan he submitted two months ago.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint’s emergency manager got an earful during a public meeting last night on the budget he imposed on the city last week.

Emergency manager Michael Brown had planned to take the first half hour of a 90 minute public meeting to review his budget plan and then allow an hour for questions.

But the budget presentation had barely started, when several people in the nearly full auditorium jumped to their feet to shout down the emergency manager.

After the outburst, a parade of people took turns at the podium denouncing emergency manager Michael Brown, the law that put him in charge of Flint and the budget he introduced and imposed last week. That budget cuts the city’s workforce by about 20 percent and imposes hundreds of dollars in new fees for city water, street light and other city services.

Flint resident Carolyn Shannon questioned the expertise behind the decision to make deep cuts to the city’s police and fire departments.  

“Even a person off the street…can cut somebody’s throat," scolded Shannon.

One man, identified only as Maurice, glared at Brown as he talked about how he can’t afford to pay any more taxes.

"You want to take more from me and my daughter?" the man asked, "You ain’t no different than these people that are out here murdering our own children."  

Brown insists the budget cuts and fee increases are needed to address Flint’s  projected $25 million gap next year. That's not Flint's only financial problem. The city is also seeking the state's OK to sell more than $18 million in loans to pay off the city debts from the past few budget years.

Dave Hogg / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has laid out a budget proposal that would cut more than 2,500 jobs and shave $250 million from the city's annual expenses.

Bing's Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown told City Council members Monday the layoffs would be in addition to 1,000 job cuts Bing sought earlier. Brown says the city's general fund revenues will decrease from $820.5 million to $739 million.

Detroit has an accumulated budget deficit of $265 million and $13.2 billion in long-term, structural debt and is trying to fix its finances after agreeing to state oversight Bing's budget proposal also calls for privatizing the city's bus system and transferring its lighting department to an independent authority.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press say $75 million would go toward the city's accumulated deficit.

Cedar Bend Drive / Flickr

Michigan lawmakers are headed back to the state Capitol after a two-week spring break, with the state budget remaining their top priority.

Legislative sessions resume Tuesday. Lawmakers say they hope to wrap up a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in October within the next two months.

There are some differences between developing budget plans from Republican lawmakers who hold the majority in the state Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's initial budget proposal.

Some Republicans want to spend less than Snyder proposed on the state prison system and some other state departments. They say they worry that state revenues won't come in as high as state economists projected earlier this year.

The House and Senate appropriations committees have meetings scheduled for this week.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint’s emergency manager and his staff are working this week to wrap up a budget plan for the city.    The plan will include a request for up to $20 million in bonds to help close the city’s massive budget deficit.

Flint Finance Director Jerry Ambrose hopes the plan will be ready to submit to the state by early next week.   He says the budget plan will address the need to do “less with less”.   Ambrose says layoffs and furlough days are likely.

user auntowwee / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Lower-than-expected tax collections could threaten parts of Gov. Rick Snyder's next state government budget plan.

Republicans who control the Michigan Senate have preliminary plans to spend roughly $150 million less overall than Snyder has proposed for the fiscal year starting in October.

The targets include about $25 million less than Snyder proposed for information technology system upgrades and $45 million less on the state prison system.

The Senate targets do not reduce Snyder's funding proposals for education. Proposed spending would be relatively flat for K-12 schools, while universities and community colleges could get average increases of about 3 percent.

The Snyder administration says it's too early to change its budget plan, noting more information will be available when state economists gather in May for an official revenue estimating conference.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette hopes lawmakers will make room in the budget for his plan to hire 1,000 new police officers. Gov. Rick Snyder did not include Schuette’s plan in his executive budget proposal.

Schuette says state officials need to be forward-thinking with public safety.

“We have to be decisive, we need to be solution-oriented in this new Michigan, and that means in terms of this linkage between economic growth and public safety.”

Schuette would also like the state Legislature to toughen sentencing guidelines for repeat violent felons. Governor Snyder plans to deliver a special message on public safety next month.

Photo courtesy of Gov Snyder's office

Governor Snyder has said the state needs to do more to attract immigrants, and get them to stay once they’re here.

In his recent budget proposal, Governor Snyder calls for the creation of a Cultural Ambassador program to attract and welcome immigrants to the state, which is similar to a program he helped create when he worked at Ann Arbor SPARK.

Yesterday, while everyone was focusing on the details of  Governor Snyder’s budget proposal, I was struck instead by something Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley said about it.

The state needs to “resist the temptation to go back to the old way because the old way did not serve us well.” And it’s impossible to disagree with that, whatever your politics or ideology.

User: mattileo/flickr

Governor Rick Snyder today presented his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2013, which begins this October.  He calls for modest increases in K-12 education, state police, and cities.

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 joined Michigan Radio's Jennifer White to talk about the governor’s budget proposal.

There were no big spending cuts or structural changes. Sikkema is not surprised.

“We did big things last year. Now let’s just solidify them and continue in the direction we’re going in,” says Sikkema.

The Governor has proposed a public safety initiative that includes a 16 percent funding boost for the Michigan State Police, an additional $15 million in “law enforcement enhancement,” and about $5 million for youth employment program in high crime areas.

Michigan has numerous cities with high crime rates.  Demas says, “Now that we do have some more money in the surplus, it’s probably not a surprise that this was an area that we went to.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has proposed a $48.2 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts in October. The proposed budget has modest increases for cities, K-12 and higher education, and roads. State police would get a larger increase. There are no major tax reforms in the budget.

Julie Grant/The Environment Report

by Julie Grant for The Environment Report

When Ernie Runions took the job as maintenance manager at the Senior Citizens Housing Center in Louisville, New York, he didn’t realize how much time he’d be spending in this small room. The water room. It’s filled with water tanks and filters. Runions says the equipment cost about $25,000 and the price tag keeps rising.

“It’s in terrible shape. It keeps falling apart. Every time we fix it, it’s $5,000, $3,000. This place is right in the hole because of that.”

We fill a bucket with the nursing home’s water – before it’s gone through the extensive filtering.

It smells bad, like eggs and iron. It’s got a blackish tint, and it’s got black particles floating in it.

Runions says even after the filtering, the elderly residents don’t want to drink it. It’s high in sodium, which can be bad for their health. And it smells like chlorine, which Runions uses to kill bacteria.

“And they complain. They say the chlorine is making me itch, all the extra chlorine. I’ve got red blotches all over my body, and my doctor says it’s the chlorine from the building.”

Town leaders say that until a few years ago, everyone used well water. And most people had some kind of problem with it. Nearly half the wells tested had coliform bacteria contamination – some suspected sewage was seeping into the wells.

Ifmuth / Flickr

Detroit’s financial troubles have been in the news quite a bit recently with Mayor Dave Bing announcing a plan to lay off 1000 city workers and the looming possibility of the state assigning an emergency manager to take over the city’s finances. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry took a look back at Detroit's history of financial problems.

Ifmuth / Flickr

Detroit will run out of money in the first half of next year unless the city cuts its budget, the Detroit Free Press is reporting. From the Freep:

A closely guarded report on Detroit's finances paints an alarming picture of a city that will run out of cash by April unless officials make immediate, painful reductions that will cut deeply in to public services. The report, obtained by the Free Press, outlines some drastic scenarios that illustrate how steep those cuts must be for the city to stay afloat…

The problems are so severe and immediate, restructuring experts said, that the state may have no choice but to appoint an emergency manager with the authority to gut union contracts, sell assets, restructure the government and end nonessential services.

“The mayor plans to speak Wednesday at 6 p.m.,” about the city’s financial situation, the Associated Press reports. As the AP notes, “It's possible that Detroit's poor health could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager with sweeping authority to make changes.”

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint mayor Dayne Walling said the city’s budget deficit has been cut in half. Walling’s opponent in next week’s election said he doesn’t believe the mayor.  

Mayor Dayne Walling said a just completed review shows Flint finished its last fiscal year $7.34 million in the red. But that’s about half of what was expected ($14.62 million). Walling said it’s a sign budget reforms he’s put in place over the past two years are working.  

"With any changes it takes time to be able to be calculated and assured," said Walling.  

michigan.gov

Michigan’s Attorney General is appealing a ruling that prevents the privatization of nursing assistants as a state-run home for veterans.

The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is one of two state-run hospitals (the other, much smaller one, is in Marquette) for veterans in Michigan. More than 700 veterans are housed there.

Russ Climie / Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder says he would prefer to wait and see what direction the economy takes before making decisions on how to use a projected budget surplus.

Snyder says he is no rush to restore funding to schools or other programs.

Budget watchdogs predict the state is in line for a windfall of around $430 million once the books are closed on the fiscal year that ended last month.

Tax revenues appear to have picked up despite the lackluster recovery in jobs and spending.

Democrats have called for restoring cuts to K-12 education, but Governor Snyder said it’s too soon to make that call.

“It’s good to see positive results coming in in terms of revenues, but one of the things is the economy in the macro sense at the national and international level is pretty tenuous,” said Snyder.

Other Republican leaders have said any surplus should be put into the state’s “rainy day” savings or toward paying down long-term debt.

The governor says those options might be prudent if the state winds up with excess cash.

It turns out Michigan's state government might have brought in more money from taxes and fees than previously expected in the fiscal year that ended September 30th. That likely will set up a battle this fall over what to do with
the cash, which could total $285 million or more.

Democrats, outnumbered in the Michigan Legislature, say any extra money should be committed first to public schools and education programs that are dealing with budget cuts in the fiscal year that started this month.

Republicans, including those in Governor Rick Snyder's administration, are hesitant to commit to any spending before they have a clearer picture of state revenues.

Snyder's budget office is expected to close the books on the recently completed 2010-11 fiscal year in December.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

For most Michigan kids, today is the first day back to school.  And many are taking backpacks full of school supplies. They are not required to take school supplies. By state law the public schools are to supply everything students need for class. 

When you add it all up, the new school clothes, gym shoes, and all those binders, crayons, paper, pens and pencils, back-to-school shopping is big business.

“It’s really become probably the second biggest shopping period of the year, right behind Christmas.”

That’s Tom Scott with Michigan Retailers Association. One national estimate puts back-to-school shopping at about 16 percent of retail business in a year. It’s difficult to separate just how much of that is actual school supplies and not clothes or computers. 

The school districts always put out a long list of things kids might need for school and parents start hunting.

The Michigan Court of Appeals says the Legislature violated the state constitution by illegally taking money from state employee paychecks to cover retirement health care costs.

State employees are in line to get back $60 million dollars that was withheld from their paychecks if this decision stands.

The court of appeals says then-Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Legislature could not take three percent of state employee salaries for retirement costs after lawmakers failed to block three percent pay raises.

The pay raises were approved by the independent state Civil Service Commission, and could only be reversed by super-majorities in the House and Senate.

The appeals court said that was just another way to take away the pay raise, and violated the process set up by the state constitution.

Governor Rick Snyder says the money is needed to help cover a shortfall in the state employee retirement fund. He could ask the state attorney general to appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

*Correction - an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the current Michigan legislature and Governor Snyder "adopted the plan earlier this year that requires state employees contribute 3 percent of their paychecks toward their retirement health care costs."

The plan was adopted under a previous legislature and then-Governor Granholm.

The headline has been changed as well. (previous headline "Court rules Michigan legislature and Gov. illegally quashed pay raise").

We regret the error.

 

 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Residents involved in roughly 12,500 welfare cases in Michigan could lose benefits under a stricter, four-year lifetime limit that has received final approval in the Michigan Legislature.

The Republican-led House passed the legislation with 73-34 votes Wednesday mostly along party lines.

The measures will go to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The welfare limit already has been approved as part of the state budget that kicks in Oct. 1. Lawmakers plan to put the cap in a separate state statute to help implement the budget plan. The state's current four-year limit on welfare benefits would expire Sept. 30 unless the Legislature revises or extends the limitations.

The revised welfare limits have fewer exemptions than the four-year limit now in state law.

State Budget Director John Nixon says he’s unsure how Michigan will make payments to food stamp and welfare recipients and Medicaid providers if the federal government defaults, the Associated Press reports.

“Michigan draws about $400 million a week from federal funds that could suddenly dry up next week if the nation hits its debt limit and cannot pay its bills… Forty-four percent of Michigan's $45 billion budget is supported by federal funds, as are 25 percent of state workers.” the AP notes.

In an interview with the AP, Nixon says the state will do what it can to, “keep things moving.”

Meanwhile, Governor Snyder said yesterday that a possible default has him concerned:

“One of the challenges is (the federal government) haven’t told us exactly what it’ll mean. So we’re prepared for a number of scenarios.”

Lindsey Smith reports, "Snyder says Michigan could move money around to cover things like Medicaid payments until the federal government reimburses the state." Snyder said:

“I think we’re going to be in reasonably good shape, as long as it doesn’t go for an extended period of time.”

US House of Representative

The divide over budget and debt ceiling talks continues between Congressional Republicans and Democrats. Within the Republican Party, the Tea Party Caucus is a prominent voice against any deal that contains tax increases.

Republican Congressman Tim Walberg represents Michigan’s 7th district and is a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He spoke with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White about what he thinks it might take for both Republicans and Democrats to agree on a budget.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she hopes President Obama and Congressional leaders can strike a ‘balance’ in Sunday’s planned talks on extending the debt ceiling.  Stabenow says the President and Republicans should prioritize the needs of middle class Americans. 

“Its very concerning to me that we not see the budget be balanced on the backs of middle class families and senior citizens.”

whitehouse.gov

The debate over the federal budget and the debt ceiling is heated, and there are very dire predictions from both Republican and Democratic leaders about what will happen if these issues aren’t resolved soon. But for Americans who are dealing with every day, immediate issues, this debate can seem distant.

Republican Congressman Mike Rogers represents Michigan's 8th Congressional District. He spoke with Michigan Radio's Jenn White about why people should care about this debate.

Congressman Rogers says these issues "impact the ability for our economy to grow and for people to get back to work."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Today elected officials in Grand Rapids adopted a budget for 2012. The plan closes a $6 million budget gap in the city’s general fund.

The plan includes money for a new ‘transformation fund’ – which can only be used for one-time investments in long-term structural changes.

Grand Rapids took a couple measure last year to keep their budget out the red…they laid off around 175 employees and voters approved a city income tax hike.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint's new city budget begins July first.  But it's still not clear if city employees will be laid off to make the numbers work.    The Flint city council approved the city's budget on Monday.   The spending plan is based partly on a 15% wage and benefit concession by Flint's city unions.   Concessions that the unions have not agreed too. 

Even though the new budget takes effect July 1st, Flint mayor Dayne Walling insists layoffs are not imminent.   He says decisions on possible staff cuts will be based on monthly reviews of Flint's budget situation.  

 “There is a reality that you can only spend a dollar one time.    And once that dollar gets spent…than its not available for services in January or next Spring.”   

Flint has already laid off dozens of city employees during the past year, as the city struggles with a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

flickr / joshuadavisphotography

Governor Rick Snyder passed new laws expanding the power of Emergency Financial Managers, and there’s been debate over whether or not Emergency Managers are able to turnaround the municipalities and districts they’re assigned to. Michigan Radio’s Jenn White spoke with Gary Olsen, Former Director of the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. Here is the interview:

Do Emergency Managers leave their cities or districts in better financial condition?

Political Roundup

May 27, 2011
Photo by: contemplative imaging

The State Legislature completed work on a $46.5 billion state budget this week. It’s the quickest budget process since the 1960’s. Michigan Radio’s Jenn White spoke with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Bill Ballenger, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.  You can hear the interview here:

Ballenger says  Governor Snyder had a clear plan coming into office, which helped get this budget passed so quickly. He also points to the strong Republican control.

These are the biggest margins of control since the years after World War II ended. This is how strong the majority is in the House and Senate with a Republican Governor. That is incredibly important.

Certain items in the tax structure and in this budget have gotten lots of attention from the public. Tax on pensions, the reduction of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the cuts to K-12 schools all have been on people’s minds.

Pages