Legislature sends $81.7 billion budget to Whitmer
The Michigan Legislature capped weeks of negotiations Wednesday with the adoption of an $81.7 billion budget that funds state departments, education and local governments.
The spending plans were approved just ahead of July 1st, which is the start of the fiscal years for schools, community colleges, public universities and local governments.
This is also the first state budget crafted in decades entirely under Democratic control of the Legislature and the governor’s office. The bills head now to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said the budget crafted under Democrats’ leadership “reflects the values of Michiganders and it’s a budget that shows when we prioritize investments in our people and the places that we love, we can build a state where everyone has the opportunity to be successful.”
A sample of what’s in the budget includes funding for school lunches for all pre-K through 12th grade students and more money for at-risk youth services. It would also create a K-12 “rainy day” fund to assist when school revenues run short. There was also a deposit into the regular “rainy day” savings account which backstops the general fund budget during austere stretches.
About $750 million was also earmarked for projects in specific legislators’ districts, which critics complained was an effort to buy support and reward Democrats.
Senator Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said the new budget bills reflect the priorities of Democrats under their first budgets in decades.
“Democrats who have now been in control of the budget process for the first time in 40 years really wanted to make sure that our communities who have been disinvested in receive the resources that they needed to thrive and this is a major step in the right direction,” he said.
The bills were adopted with bipartisan support, but some House and Senate Republicans voted “no.” Representative Andrew Beeler (R-Port Huron) was one of the GOP “no” votes.
“The sticker shock is real, right? $81 billion is a lot of money given most people (are) saying that we’re going to see an economic downturn in the coming years, for sure,” he said. “So I think the sticker shock first and foremost is a dealbreaker for a lot of Republicans. I would say myself included.”
The bills now go to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign them. She could use her line-item-veto power on specific items.