Governor Snyder proposes state budget
LANSING — Governor Rick Snyder is seeking to boost base funding for most of Michigan's public schools by the largest dollar amount in 17 years and to end the state's use of a company to feed prisoners.
Snyder on Wednesday asked lawmakers for a $240 per-pupil increase for school districts that get the minimum grant, which would amount to a 3.1 percent boost for more 75 percent of traditional districts and all charter schools. Higher-funded districts receiving the basic grant would get $120 more per student in the 2018-19 budget, which would be a 1.4 percent increase.
The Republican governor also proposed shifting $325 million in general funds to road and bridge work, more than double what is called for under a 2015 transportation-funding deal that is gradually being phased in. And in a move that could spark opposition from GOP legislators, he announced that he doesn't plan to extend a contract with Trinity Food Services once it ends in July, saying the benefits of privatization - which has not been "successful" - do not outweigh the costs.
Trinity - which has mutually agreed to end the partnership, according to the state Corrections Department - was hired in 2015 after the state ended a contract with Aramark Correctional Services after the company came under scrutiny for unapproved menu substitutions, worker misconduct and other issues.
The state's initial outsourcing in 2013 led to the loss of 370 unionized state jobs, which were replaced by lower-paid private workers. Now Snyder wants to return to having state employees do the work.
It was the his eighth and final budget presentation to the Republican-led Legislature, where an election-year push for tax cuts could conflict with his spending priorities and his warnings of growing budget pressures.
Since last month's State of the State speech, in which Snyder first broadly mentioned plans to spend more than usual on K-12 schools and roads, he has proposed a steep rise in a fee for taking waste to landfills and creating a new state fee on water customers. He said the moves are needed to pay for environmental cleanup and to improve water infrastructure.
His administration last week announced plans to close a Muskegon-area prison to save nearly $19 million in the budget.
Michigan's minimum per-student funding is $7,631. A $240 increase would be the biggest since the 2001-02 fiscal year, when a $500 hike was enacted. The only other time the minimum amount was boosted by more than $200 since then was in the 2006-07 budget.
"This is a significant increase and would close the equity gap between the high and low from the time we started (in office) by over 50 percent, which is very significant because we have many districts that are at the minimum," Snyder said.