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Snyder spending plan proposes more money for schools, universities, local governments

Rick Pluta
Budget Director John Nixon, Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley deliver the administration’s 2014-15 spending proposal to state lawmakers.";

Governor Rick Snyder’s budget proposalcalls for more money for schools, universities, and local governments. The governor presented his budget proposal Wednesday before a joint hearing of the state House and Senate appropriations committees. He says the plan is a frugal budget, but it makes badly needed investments.

“The investments are working that we’ve made over the past few years,” said Snyder. “They’ve been strong investments, good investments, but let’s finish the job we’ve started.” 

The governor also called for an election year tax break.

A homestead property tax credit – that could be claimed against last year’s taxes – would target more than a million low- and middle-income families. The governor says it would send help to taxpayers that need it the most. 

He also asked for more money for roads, healthcare, early childhood education, and law enforcement – as well as a large deposit in the state’s “rainy day” savings.

The budget proposal was met with mixed reactions from school groups, local governments, and Democrats.

Many public school officials in Michigan say the 3% funding boost is helpful. But they say it’s not nearly enough to offset years of inadequate funding from the state. And they it’s not clear how much of that money will have to go to things like teacher retirement costs.

“I’d be reluctant to view this as a positive until we can know whether or not the funding actually can go toward per-pupil instruction in the classroom,” said Robert Livernois, superintendent of Warren Consolidated Public Schools.

Local government officials expressed similar reactions to the governor’s call to increase revenue sharing with Michigan cities, villages, and townships by almost $20 million.

“Even that, in the face of losing $6 billion, obviously doesn’t make up for it,” said Samantha Harkins with the Michigan Municipal League. “And we’ve really been struggling at the local level, and when you see that the state has quite a large surplus, obviously we think it’s really important to reinvest that in our communities.”

The top Democrat on the state House Appropriations Committee says the same goes for the governor’s tax relief plan.

“Of course, this is in a positive direction, but this is not new,” said state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit. “This is a restoration. And it’s not a full restoration.”

The Legislature now begins its budget hearings. The governor wants the next state budget wrapped up by June 1.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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