Snyder’s $56B budget spends more; does not include tax cut

Gov. Rick Snyder presents his fiscal year 2018 and 2019 budget recommendation on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, before the joint Senate and House Appropriations Committees at the Senate Hearing Room in Boji Tower in Lansing, Mich. (Julia Nagy/Lansing State Journal via AP)

By DAVID EGGERT
Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday proposed a $56 billion state budget that would spend more on education and sock additional money into savings but include no income tax cut that his fellow Republicans in the Legislature want.
The proposal, which has money to respond to Flint’s lead-contaminated water, would significantly increase funding for schools with at-risk students and make a key change in how aid is allotted to K-12 districts.
Both majority Republicans and minority Democrats were generally receptive to the overall blueprint, which will be altered before it likely reaches the second-term governor’s desk in June.
Snyder said the plan was designed to address long-term retirement liabilities while investing in key areas such as education and job training and keeping in mind future budget pressures linked to past tax cuts and Medicaid expansion cuts.
“It’s about taking care of the people of Michigan,” he told the House and Senate budget committees.
While Snyder later told reporters he would not be “throwing gauntlets down” and dismissing a tax cut out of hand, he said legislators “need to propose what you’re going to cut or (how) else you’re going to raise revenue. As a practical matter, there’s significant tax relief … that has taken place already and there’s pending ones coming.”
The $56.3 billion budget for the fiscal year starting in October would spend 2.5 percent more than in the current year. Major components include:
≤ A 1 percent overall boost in the school aid budget, to $14.3 billion, which Democrats said is too low and which Snyder said is a record amount. Districts would receive between $50 (0.6 percent) and $100 (1.3 percent) more for every student, plus — in a wrinkle — an additional $50 for each one in high school.
Snyder said it costs more to educate older students. He also proposed $150 million, or 40 percent, more to cover low-income, academically at-risk students and to allow another 131,000 such children to be factored into funding.
Advocates of publicly funded charter schools — which tend to run elementary schools instead of high schools — criticized giving schools more for high school students, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Hildenbrand, a Lowell Republican, said he had “some initial reservations.”
Proponents of cyber schools opposed Snyder’s plan to give them less because their building costs are minimal.
≤A $260 million deposit into the budget stabilization, or “rainy day,” fund — bringing the total to $1 billion.
≤ Nearly $49 million more for the Flint emergency, including providing water filters to residents who should not drink unfiltered tap water.
If approved, the allocation would bring total state spending on the man-made lead emergency — for which the Snyder administration has been deemed primarily responsible — to more than $300 million over three years.