Government

Local groups respond positively to Snyder’s budget plan

Reinstatement of county revenue sharing earns plaudits.

February 7, 2014
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Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year is getting a thumbs-up from local leaders.

Members of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce showed support for Snyder’s proposals, which include tax relief for 1.3 million taxpayers by expanding the Homestead Property Tax credit, a proposed $150 million in bond funds supporting engineering and skilled trades programs, and setting aside $256 million for roads.

“The prudent and tough fiscal decisions that have been made to structurally balance the budget over the last three years have created a climate that supports business growth. As a result of these diligent moves, Michigan is now in a position to make additional investments in our state,” said Rick Baker, president and CEO of GRACC. “Key investment in early childhood and skilled trades will pay dividends down the road.”

Snyder’s budget could lead to a solid fiscal foundation for the state’s future, said Andy Johnston, GRACC vice president of government and corporate affairs.

“The chamber is happy to see another down payment will be made on our roads and bridges,” he said. “Like the tough decisions made with the budget over the last three years that are now paying off, there is more work to be done. In particular, we look forward to working with the Legislature on updating road funding to save our state’s taxpayers money long term.”

Snyder’s budget proposal also touched on increased funding for Michigan’s higher education, calling for a 6.1 percent increase in public university funding and a 3 percent increase for community colleges. He also called for an additional $65 million for early childhood education and a $1 billion increase for K-12 education.

“Gov. Snyder’s strong commitment to K-12 education is reflected in his proposed budget. The state’s investment in our students will increase next year, and that’s certainly a positive step,” said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. “We believe that every child in Michigan deserves a quality education in a quality school, and in order for that dream to become a reality, we need equity in funding among all public school students — charter and traditional alike. That should be the state’s primary focus as the budget process moves ahead.”

The Michigan Association of Counties said in a release that it was pleased Snyder recommended 100 percent full funding for county revenue sharing, totaling more than $211 million for the budget. According to the MAC, this move marks the first time in 14 years that Michigan counties are “in a position to receive full revenue sharing payments.”

“I would like to thank the governor on behalf of all Michigan counties for this recommendation,” said Jon Campbell, vice president of the MAC board and an Allegan County commissioner. “MAC, along with county officials, has worked tirelessly to educate the governor and his administration on the uniqueness of county revenue sharing and how those dollars provide vital services to Michigan residents.”

The House and the Senate will soon begin considering Snyder’s budget, which means it’s not necessarily official yet, but until then, many are still keeping their fingers crossed.

"We are very appreciative of any efforts to restore revenue sharing to local units of government. I remain cautiously optimistic as this process moves forward,” said Daryl Delabbio, Kent County administrator/controller. “At this point, I’m not sure what that means to Kent County in terms of revenues, and look forward to seeing more details.”

Snyder’s budget proposal includes:

Education

  • $11.7 billion in K-12 state appropriations.
  • An additional $65 million for the Great Start Readiness Program, eliminating the waiting list for early education.
  • $2 million in new funding to pilot year-round school programs.
  • An additional $80.3 million for Michigan’s 15 public universities and $8.9 million more for community colleges. This is a 6.1 percent increase for universities and a 3 percent increase for community colleges. Schools must limit tuition increases to no more than 3.2 percent to receive the funding increases.
  • $7.3 million for financially distressed school districts.
  • $27.8 million for phased-in implementation of evaluation tools and systems for teachers and administrators.
  • An increase of $270 million for K-12 to fund retirement liabilities within the school retirement system over the employer share, which is capped at 20.96 percent.

Health Care

  • $71.7 million to implement expanded Medicaid coverage.
  • $15.7 million in gross funding to expand the Healthy Kids Dental program into Kalamazoo and Macomb counties.
  • $15.6 million to support the initiatives as recommended in the Mental Health Commission final report.

Jobs/Infrastructure

  • $254 million to match federal aid and maintain Michigan roads and bridges, transit services and aeronautics projects.
  • $5 million for the Automotive, Engineering and Manufacturing Technology Fund.
  • $2 million in new funding for the Pure Michigan marketing campaign, which would bring total annual spending to $31 million.
  • An increase of $15 million for community revitalization and business attraction efforts.
  • $100 million in bond funds ($7.9 million for debt service) to allow universities with accredited engineering programs to compete for capital improvements to help increase the number of engineers and retain them in Michigan.
  • $50 million in bond funds ($4.6 million for debt service) to allow community colleges to compete for funds to retool equipment for high-skill and high-demand occupations.
  • $2 million in new funding to support arts education, encouraging creative works of art and broadening cultural understanding.

Seniors/Vets/Immigrants

  • $5 million to expand home-delivered meals for seniors and other in-home services, with another $9 million for the MI Choice Waiver program, eliminating waiting lists.
  • $5 million in new funding to establish and support a tuition assistance program for Air and Army National Guard personnel.
  • $385,000 for the creation of the Office for New Americans to attract immigrants.
  • $1 million in new funding for prevention of elder abuse and related programs.

Public Safety

  • $17.8 million to train an additional 100 troopers and 31 motor carrier officers through the Michigan State Police Training Academy.
  • $25.3 million in new funding to replace equipment for the Michigan Public Safety Communications System.
  • $1.6 billion for the prison system, which houses 43,700 prisoners. Total corrections funding would be $2 billion.
  • $500,000 to expand initiatives focused on anti-bullying and hate crimes.

Environment

  • $6 million to prevent invasive species.
  • $3.5 million to hire and train 25 new Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, bringing the total number to 227, up from 186 in 2010.
  • $2.5 million for development of a trail system from Belle Isle to the Wisconsin border.
  • $4 million to support a new water quality initiative.
  • An additional $1 million for a statewide recycling initiative.

Local Support

  • Set aside $17.5 million in tobacco settlement reserves annually for 20 years toward the Detroit bankruptcy resolution.
  • $36 million in increased support to local governments for the Economic Vitality Incentive Program.
  • $764.9 million in constitutional revenue sharing payments and $211.2 million in county payments.
  • $10 million in emergency reserve funds for school districts at risk of closure during a school year and for districts that may have to enroll students from a dissolved district.

Other

  • $120 million to the so-called Rainy Day Fund, bringing its total to $700 million.
  • $122 million to the new Michigan Health Savings Fund to offset future health care costs.

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