Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 13, 2014

Michigan Legislature OKs $53.2 billion budget

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers on Thursday finished sending Gov. Rick Snyder a $53.2 billion state budget, approving increased aid for local governments and money to hire more state troopers and conservation officers.

The legislation — approved 100-10 in the House and 24-12 by the Senate — includes nearly $37.5 billion for all general funding not including an overall 4 percent increase for K-12 schools, universities and community colleges that was approved late Wednesday.

The overall budget will be 6 percent, or $3.1 billion, higher in the fiscal year starting in October, largely because of higher tax collections and more federal funding for Michigan's expansion of Medicaid eligibility under the federal health care law.

"Again we have passed a budget that invests more money back into our local communities, pays down long-term liabilities and sets additional money aside in the budget stabilization fund," said House Appropriations Chairman Joe Haveman, R-Holland.

Key provisions of the general budget include an overall 7 percent boost in revenue-sharing payments to municipalities. Michigan's film incentives program will get $50 million, the same as this year despite Gov. Rick Snyder's renewed attempt to cut the funding in half.

There also are funds to train 100 new state police troopers and hire 25 more conservation officers, and $120 million for incentives to attract businesses — a $10 million increase.

Democrats expressed concerns about the general budget a day after they and some Republicans also lodged criticism against the education budget, saying a minimum $50 per-pupil funding increase is too small for K-12 schools that get above the current $7,076 minimum. Snyder on Thursday hailed the K-12 budget as potentially the largest in state history, an election-year counterattack to Democrats' arguments that schools need more money and that he cut funding early in his term.

"I am very proud to say ... we hit the benchmark I talked about having more than a $1 billion higher than before I took office," the Republican governor told reporters.

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