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Police, corrections take biggest cuts in budget-balancing plans

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Governor Rick Snyder has signed a budget-cutting executive order, and presented a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. Schools, universities, and local governments were spared cuts as part the order to help clear away a deficit.

“You have to be strategic and tactical and think about, here we can afford to tighten our belt; here we can still continue good programs with less resources, and, other places, I literally want to show investments that we need to grow, we need to do more,” he said. “And we’re doing that.”

K-12 schools, higher education and local governments would all see a bump in funding under the governor’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. Money for training in skilled trades would double. And more children and adults would qualify for dental care.

It is still up to the Legislature to debate and adopt the budget, as well as the rest of the plan to tackle the deficit. The main culprit behind the shortfall is tax credits being cashed in by companies awarded them for creating or retaining jobs in Michigan. The governor says he wants to come up with a way for the state to have a better idea of when big business tax credits will be claimed.

Republicans pronounced themselves generally pleased with the governor’s budget plans. Democrats say they have questions, especially when it comes to school funding.

The governor called for a $75 increase in the per-student foundation allowance. But state Rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) says some school districts could still be hurt because they’re losing grants.

“Some school districts will get a little more, some will get less,” he said. “And there is the possibility once we see the actual breakdowns from individual school districts that school districts will have actually have less money this year than they did last year.” 

But Singh says he’s glad to see the governor calling for $100 million for schools with high numbers of poor students.

Under the governor’s budget proposal, universities would get a slight increase, but that would be dependent on restraining tuition hikes to 2.8 percent or less.

That would represent the fourth consecutive year of increases after significant cuts during the governor’s first year in office.

“He made it very clear today he’s going to continue to invest in higher education,” said Michael Boulus, who directs the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.. And we’re delighted with the news, particularly with the budget in disarray as it is.”

But Boulos says he’s concerned the tuition cap may be too strict, and he hopes state lawmakers will increase that number in the final budget.

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