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Governor's budget: small increases for schools, roads, cities; more for police

Screen shot from Michigan State Senate TV Live.
Screen shot from Michigan State Senate TV Live.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has proposed a $48.2 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts in October. The proposed budget has modest increases for cities, K-12 and higher education, and roads. State police would get a larger increase. There are no major tax reforms in the budget.

Here are highlights from the Associated Press :

     - K-12 schools would receive a 1 percent funding increase
compared to the money actually received in the current budget plan.
Much of the additional money is set aside for schools that can seek
"best practices" bonuses by offering dual enrollment or advanced
placement courses, offering online or "blended" learning, and
other practices. Another portion would be set aside for bonuses for
school districts that can demonstrate academic achievement in math
and reading for 3rd through 8th graders and in several subjects at
the high school level. Districts would get $179 million toward
teacher pension costs, similar to help they're receiving this year.
     - About $12.5 million would be added to this fiscal year's early
education spending with part of the state budget surplus. About
$115 million would go toward early education in the next fiscal
     - Increases funding for operations to Michigan's 15 public
universities by 3 percent. The increase is tied to some
improvements in graduation measures and also to limiting tuition
increases to 4 percent or less.
     - State aid to community colleges would increase by 3 percent,
with money distributed based on degrees earned in high-demand
     - Michigan State Police would get a 16 percent funding boost
from the state's general fund, an additional $43 million. Money
would be used to help increase patrols in high crime areas and may
lead to more troopers overall. More staff would be added to
forensic crime labs.
     - About $15 million in "law enforcement enhancement" is
expected to be detailed in Snyder's special message to the
Legislature in March.
     - About $5 million would be set aside for a youth employment
program in high crime areas. More details are expected in March.
     - More support would be provided to help the chronically
unemployed, including those with prison records, find work.
     - Local governments would get increases in tax revenue sharing
payments from the state, money that often is used to provide
services such as police and fire departments. The portion of
revenue sharing outlined in the state constitution would increase
by 2 percent, or nearly $14 million. The portion outlined in state
statute would increase by about $30 million. About $25 million
would be set aside as incentives for communities that work to
consolidate services. An incentive-based program for counties would
replace some portions of county revenue sharing assistance.
     - About $4.5 million would be spent to support the
state-appointed review teams that are deployed to review finances
in struggling communities and school districts. The review teams
are crucial in determining whether a city or school receives an
emergency manager.
     - No major tax structure changes are proposed, a significant
difference from last year's plan that led to new laws lowering
overall business taxes and taxing some forms of retirement income
for the first time.
     - A much-anticipated plan to eliminate or phase out a tax that
some employers pay on equipment and furniture, called the personal
property tax, is not in the budget proposal.
     - Keeps the state's film and movie incentive program capped at
$25 million, the same level as this year.
     - Provides $25 million for "Pure Michigan" tourism advertising
     - Cancels four unpaid furlough days for union-represented state
workers that had been planned for the current budget year. The
furloughs aren't needed because of the state's projected budget
     - About $130 million would be added to the state's "rainy day"
or budget stabilization fund.
     - Increases spending on state building maintenance.
     - Provides $50 million of ongoing funding for information
technology improvements.
     - Sets aside $34 million for autism coverage in the Medicaid and
MIChild programs. MIChild is a health insurance program for
uninsured children.
     - Sets aside $15 million of state general fund money for
insurance companies to provide coverage for autism treatments.
     - The state's Healthy Kids dental program would be expanded.
     - Takes $119 million out of the state's general fund to make
sure the state spends enough on roads and bridges to get federal
matching money. Snyder wants lawmakers to raise $1.4 billion in
additional transportation funding, but there's no consensus on how
that might be accomplished.
     - The basic rate for foster care parents would be increased by
$3 a day.
     - A state program that provides $60 million in home heating
assistance for low-income residents would be continue to be raised
through utility ratepayers.
     - Provides a $10 million increase for environmental cleanups
related to a refined petroleum fund.
     - Adds $5 million from the state's general fund to obtain
federal grants for drinking water projects.

     (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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