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Legislature hopes to wrap up budget this week

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature reconvenes Tuesday with the goal of wrapping up the state budget as well as a few other items of business before starting a summer recess on Thursday.

House and Senate Democratic leaders want to finish budgets for state departments, aid to local governments and spending on K-through-12 schools, community colleges and public universities and get them to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.

Also on the to-do list is a controversial re-tooling of the state’s economic development incentives program.

Whitmer has called for putting $350 million into a new Make it in Michigan Competitiveness Fund.

Many details are still being negotiated, but Democratic state Representative Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor) says he hopes it can get done this week.

“What we have put forward is a comprehensive, larger and long-term economic development package that includes housing, job attraction, placemaking. It’s a huge package that would have a significant impact if we are able to do it,” Morgan told the Michigan Public Radio Network.

That will almost certainly require votes from Republicans as well as Democrats because alongside bipartisan support is bipartisan skepticism for state business subsidies.

State Senator John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs) said he would like to see a program to help Michigan land the kinds of development deals that have been going to other states. But he said Democrats and the Whitmer administration have to show the benefits will be spread across the state.

“There are some specific details that I think are alarming to a lot of us,” he said. “You know, the amount of money that’s being spent locally, is that the right amount? Does that make us uncompetitive? Are there a bunch of sort of highly politically charged things attached to it? That’ll be what turns at least Republicans off.”

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