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Michigan Budget Analysis: Short-Term Fixes Not Enough

Critics say Gov. Rick Snyder's 2017 budget proposal doesn't create a stable revenue stream for the future. (Michigan Municipal League/Flickr)
Critics say Gov. Rick Snyder's 2017 budget proposal doesn't create a stable revenue stream for the future. (Michigan Municipal League/Flickr)
March 4, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - Presidential candidates are highlighting troubles in Detroit and Flint, but some policy experts say state government needs to step up to addresses problems plaguing all of Michigan's communities.

The Michigan League for Public Policy's chief executive, Gilda Jacobs, said she's pleased that Gov. Rick Snyder's 2017 budget proposal focuses on addressing water woes in Flint and looming insolvency in Detroit public schools. However, she contended that what it doesn't feature are long-term investments to tackle racial, economic and geographic disparities across the state.

"We want to put money into improving infrastructure, supporting early education and child care, nutrition and health for low-income families," she said. "So, we have to look at systemic policy changes, and start creating a new and stable revenue stream in order to do so."

The proposed budget reduces funds for families receiving basic income and food assistance, and Jacobs said there's no additional money for schools with high numbers of children at risk, or for need-based scholarships. She said the budget does continue the Healthy Michigan Plan and expand the Healthy Kids Dental Program.

Jacobs insisted that budget priorities should ensure a healthy and viable state. For starters, she suggested that lawmakers re-examine the $1.6 billion tax cut given to businesses in 2011.

"When those tax changes were made in the budget, no one ever anticipated what was going to be happening five years later," she said. "We really need to go and revisit whether those business cuts that took so much out of our budget still make sense today."

A "first look" Budget Brief from the Michigan League for Public Policy examines the governor's plan and will feature future analysis. It's online at mlpp.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI