House Dems: General Fund Budget Doesn’t Do Enough for Michigan Families

Improvements to the budget don’t outweigh significant downsides
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

LANSING – House Democrats said the state’s omnibus general fund budget approved by the Michigan House of Representatives today offers some improvements for Michigan residents, but frequently ignores the priorities of average, working families.

“Our state’s budget isn’t just a financial plan; it’s a reflection of the values and priorities of our state,” House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) said. “Although the budget includes some positives, it fails to adequately invest in roads and fails to fund worker compensation for firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer, all while wasting taxpayer money on a $134 million office building for legislators.”

Greimel and other House Democrats said they were encouraged that the final omnibus budget did reflect many budget priorities outlined by the House Democratic caucus, including:

  • Protecting health care for 590,000 Michiganders by continuing to fund the Healthy Michigan Plan.
  • Expanding the Healthy Kids Dental Plan to Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties so that low-income children up to 12 years of age in every part of the state can access dental care.
  • Maintaining local public safety by protecting local revenue sharing, discarding the proposed cuts in the House Republican plan.
  • Protecting senior health and well-being by maintaining funding for the Meals on Wheels program.

“I’m glad that both sides of the aisle in both chambers of the Legislature were able to come together and fund these programs that have done so much to improve the quality of life for residents,” said House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton). “Programs like the Healthy Michigan Plan, which brings health care access to 600,000 working adults, and the Healthy Kids Dental Plan, which makes sure children in lower-income families can see a dentist, are vitally important and deserve funding. Unfortunately, other important programs weren’t funded, so we must continue to fight for their inclusion.”

In particular, House Democrats were disappointed that the budget:

  • Calls for the closure or consolidation of several Department of Human Services offices, including one in economically stressed Highland Park.
  • Failed to allocate adequate road funding and appropriated none of the increase in transportation funding to public transit, which many working families rely on to get to work.
  • Failed to hold the Michigan Economic Development Corp. accountable after it was discovered that runaway corporate tax breaks will cost our state more than $9 billion in coming years.
  • Closes the W.J. Maxey Training School, a center for youth offenders that has a proven track record of preventing recidivism.
  • Fails to protect our firefighters by denying to fund a presumption that working around harmful substances such as asbestos causes an abnormally high rate of certain cancers among firefighters.

“For too long, our state has demanded sacrifices from regular families in order to fund pet projects of legislators and their corporate friends, as we saw when the Senate foolishly spent $134 million to buy themselves new luxury offices from a high-dollar Republican donor,” said Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “We still have a long way to go toward creating a state budget that truly reflects the priorities and needs of Michigan’s working families.”