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Michigan Legislature wraps up work on budget bills; new round of spending plans still to come

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature wrapped up work on budget bills in a session that lasted through Thursday night and into early Friday morning.

The budget bills — totaling about $77 billion in spending — are now awaiting Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signature and line-item vetoes, but the administration and lawmakers are looking ahead to determine how to use a combined $7 billion remaining in the General Fund and School Aid Fund.

Republican Representative Thomas Albert chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

He said the state has enough left to pay down debt, put money into savings, and fund a tax cut. “I mean we have $7 billion still remaining that’s unspent, so I think there’s plenty of room for both a cushion and looking for tax relief.”

Albert said that’s critical right now as inflation cuts into household incomes.

He said the state will pay down $2.6 billion in debt, which will help prepare for the day when revenue levels off. “You know, I think there is plenty of running room left. If you look, we still have 7 billion dollars on the balance sheet, so tax relief is still on the table,” Albert said.

Representative Joe Tate is the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. He says that remaining money could be used for a lot of things.

Tate says he’d like to look at an increase in the earned income tax credit for low-income workers.

“So I’m really viewing that as a real opportunity to for us to do and do it in an ongoing fashion that won’t, that won’t put us in any fiscal stress in the future,” he said.

Boosting the tax credit on earned income is an area of bipartisan agreement that has just never made it into a final budget deal, but there’s still time and the money to do it. The tax credit will be competing, though, with the Republican preference for a state income tax rate cut, while Whitmer has called for a one-time tax rebate.

Discussions on that will continue during the Legislature’s three-week summer recess.

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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