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Michigan Budget Process Kicks into High Gear

Michigan lawmakers have about three months to reach agreement on the fiscal year 2020 budget.  (Brian Rawson-Ketchum/Flickr)
Michigan lawmakers have about three months to reach agreement on the fiscal year 2020 budget. (Brian Rawson-Ketchum/Flickr)
March 11, 2019

LANSING, Mich. – With the state budget process kicking into high gear, some policy groups are praising the governor's proposals to improve the lives of Michiganders.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's first executive budget recommendation totals $60.2 billion for fiscal year 2020, more than 3 percent higher than the last budget.

It includes funding to improve roads, water quality and education, and help for working families.

Gilda Jacobs, CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), says the budget embraces priorities outlined in the league's “Owner's Manual” for state policymakers.

"We believe it connects pretty significantly to our concerns about how we have enough money for education, that we address the need for skilled workers, for better paying jobs, for healthy communities,” Jacobs states. “There's just a tremendous connection to all of that. "

Jacobs notes MLPP is especially pleased with a plan to double the state’s earned income tax credit to 12 percent over two years. It had been cut back significantly in 2011.

The increase is meant to offset the impact of a proposed 45 cent hike in the gas tax. That revenue would be used to repair the state's busiest and most economically important roads.

Some Republican lawmakers are concerned it would burden families.

The recommendations also increase funding for early literacy, K through 12 schools and higher education. They also continue outreach and support for those affected by the Flint water crisis.

And Jacobs adds the proposal ensures budget dollars are being used for their intended purpose.

"We're looking at moving road funding out of the general fund, we're looking at moving higher ed out of the school aid fund and all those we believe are really significant kinds of changes in how we look at our budget," she states.

Appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate will now meet to develop their own versions of the state budget.

Jacobs encourages Michiganders to get involved in the process.

"A budget is sort of the moral compass of who we are as a state,” she states. “And if legislators hear from their constituents those messages do not fall on deaf ears. So go talk to your legislators, explain to them what's important to you. "

The budget must be approved by the end of June.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI