The Republican-led Michigan House approved a $56.7 billion budget Tuesday that includes significantly more funding for at-risk students and a modest boost in traditional state aid for K-12 districts.
The spending plan was passed on 64-43 and 72-35 votes with many Democrats in opposition. It is expected win final approval in the GOP-led Senate Thursday before a summer recess and reflects an agreement with Gov. Rick Snyder after differences were resolved over a bill to steer more newly hired school workers into a 401(k)-only retirement plan.
Overall spending would rise by about 2 percent in the fiscal year starting in October. The state would spend slightly less general fund money than in the current budget year — a point of emphasis for Republicans.
“This budget reduces the size of government while at the same time safeguarding the vital services we provide to our citizens,” said House Appropriations Chairwoman Laura Cox, a Livonia Republican.
Some major components of the blueprint include:
— Base per-pupil funding increases ranging from $60 to $120, or 0.7 to 1.6 percent. The lowest-funded districts would get more, while higher-funded ones would get a lesser boost.
— A $120 million increase in spending on economically disadvantaged students, nearly a third more. Some 87,000 new children would become eligible.
— A new $25 payment to districts for each high school student, to reflect that it costs more to educate ninth- to 12th-graders than younger children.
— Increased funding ranging from 1.6 percent to 2.7 percent at 15 state universities. State operations aid for the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Michigan State, Wayne State, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan would remain below what it was seven years ago before a big cut.
— A total of $255 million more to reduce $29 billion in unfunded liabilities in the Michigan Public School Retirees System and to transition new hires to a plan that defaults them into a 401(k)-only option unless they pay more for a costlier pension and assume more risk.
— A $150 million deposit into savings, less than a $260 million-plus deposit that was initially proposed by Snyder in February. Democrats unsuccessfully sought to use much of the $150 million to instead spend more repairing roads and bridges. A 2015 road-funding plan drafted by Republicans increased fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, but the plan will not be fully phased in for another three years.
“Our citizens across the state, no matter what district, are still complaining about our roads,” Rep. Fred Durhal III of Detroit, the top Democrat on the House budget committee, said. “We had a so-called roads package that passed, but we haven’t seen anything and our roads continue to crumble.”
House Bill 4323: http://bit.ly/2tLdEu6
House Bill 4313: http://bit.ly/2rOaVnk