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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

Trade War Could Force Changes In State Budget

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UPDATED Friday at 6:30 p.m.: An international trade war could reduce how much money Michigan has to spend on roads, schools, and health care. That’s the word from economists who testified Friday before a state budget panel.

The panel’s job is to determine how much revenue is available as the governor and the Legislature put together the state budget. The picture is stable at the moment as the economy hums and employment is high. 

But the panel was warned a trade war between the US and China could disrupt the economy.

Rachael Eubanks is Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s state treasurer.

“Certainly if we see any of that, we will be prepared to get back together as necessary to adjust," said Eubanks.

Governor Whitmer is looking for two and a half billion dollars to fix and upgrade roads. Anything that shakes the economy and reduces revenue would make that job more difficult. 

UPDATED Friday at 2:00 p.m.: Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration have reached a consensus on revised tax revenue projections that will be used as they work to enact the next state budget.

They say revenue estimates for this fiscal year and the next budget year are largely unchanged from January.

State Budget Director Chris Kolb says in a statement that the estimates "don't fundamentally change the fact that we have constrained resources" to deal with big challenges including fixing the state's roads, educating children and dealing with threat posed by chemical contamination to Michigan waters.

Following Friday's revenue estimating conference, general fund general purpose revenue for the 2019 fiscal year is projected at $10.85 billion, up $151.5 million from estimates agreed to in January.

School aid fund revenue is now estimated at $13.48 billion, down $68.2 million from January.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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