Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 16, 2013

Surplus may go to roads

Associated Press

---- — LANSING (AP) — There was no dearth of ideas about what to do with the state’s newfound $483 million surplus on Wednesday after Michigan budget experts made the dollar figure official.

Spend more on road maintenance or schools. Cut taxes. Save more for when times get bad. Pay off debts and liabilities.

“The feeding frenzy has begun,” House Speaker Jase Bolger said. “Everyone under the sun has new ideas and new ways to spend this money.”

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and legislative economists agreed on a tax revenue forecast Wednesday that shows Michigan is expected to get an estimated $483 more than expected in January for the fiscal year ending in 4 ½ months. That surplus, coupled with better-than-expected tax collections projected for the next fiscal year, means lawmakers have an extra $700 million to use in finalizing a roughly $49 billion spending plan in coming weeks.

Snyder and Republicans in control of the Capitol want to plow more money into road maintenance if no long-lasting boost in transportation funding is passed soon.

“Transportation is a top priority. ... The first place we’ve said that we need to look before going to the voters is existing resources,” said Bolger, a Marshall Republican. “I expect that we need to look to roads.”

However, he and others urged caution because at least half this year’s unanticipated revenue growth was attributed to people selling stocks due to worries about potential federal tax increases before a New Year’s “fiscal cliff.”