High schools would get bump in per-student funding and there would be help for schools with rapidly declining enrollments. Worker training and higher education are winners under the plan. Flint would get another $50 million and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s criminal investigation into the water crisis would get more money.
The governor also called for a $20 million pot of seed money to start work on infrastructure projects, although a commission appointed by Snyder says the need is closer to $4 billion a year. The governor also wants to top out the state’s “rainy day” savings at $1 billion for the first time since before the Great Recession.
“There’s been tremendous progress in this state,” Snyder told a joint meeting of the House and Senate budget committees. “We should be proud. But we shouldn’t be complacent nor content.”
The governor did not explicitly say “no” to any new tax cuts. But he says Republicans who want to roll back taxes had better also come up with plans to cut spending.
Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley also said there are tax cuts adopted earlier – including a boost in the homestead credit, and eliminating the property tax on business equipment – that are still playing out.
“So, the idea of passing tax relief and spending it over several years is not a new idea,” he said. “Over the course of the last six years, it’s happened many times.”
But GOP lawmakers say they’re not giving up, especially on some type of reduction in the state’s 4.9 percent income tax rate.
“We just want to make sure that we’re working about the working families, the people that are home, that are working every day, we want to make sure that there’s more money in their pockets, as well,” said state Representative Laura Cox (R-Livonia), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. “So there’s been good tax relief but we want to continue that momentum forward.”
However, charter school advocates were upset with Snyder's plans to reduce funds for online “virtual” schools that don’t have brick-and-mortar costs and to give more money to high schools.
“You’re penalizing parents for making choices,” said Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. “So if they choose this kind of institution versus that kind of an institution, the funding is different – their child is worth a different amount of money.”
The budget, totaling $56 billion when you count all sources of revenue, must still be debated and approved by the Legislature. The governor and legislative leaders hope to have the budget for the coming fiscal year wrapped up by early June.
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