This week, Gov. Rick Snyder made his eighth and final budget presentation to the Legislature outlining his spending proposal for Fiscal Year 2018-19, beginning Oct. 1. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee I was present to hear the governor lay out his ideas on how to spend your tax dollars. I also heard a chorus of protestors in the halls of the Capitol loudly chanting their dissent. While the governor occasionally had to raise his voice to be heard, I’m sure he didn’t mind. After all, a vocal and engaged electorate only serves to keep our democracy strong!
My first impressions of the presentation are mostly positive. The governor’s job this week was to sell his budget to the Legislature and the people of Michigan. To that end, he did well. I took careful notes and was able to identify several areas of agreement that I feel I may possibly be able to work in a bipartisan way with the administration to rebuild our economy and standard of living in Michigan. However, these are still only small steps on important issues, and more work still needs to be done to keep helping our communities. The budget process has only just begun, and I will continue fighting throughout the coming months for the funding our communities, schools and infrastructure need.
Some of the positive takeaways from this week’s presentation include:
- Increasing the School Aid Fund foundation allowance by $312 million. This would mean an additional $120-240 per pupil for the public schools in our district.
- Reducing the allowance for our state’s cyber schools (the governor proposed a $25 million reduction). I believe that cyber schools may be a good fit for certain students, but it only makes sense that online schools do not have the same expenses as traditional brick-and-mortar schools, and thus they should be funded differently.
- Chipping in more for road repairs and improvements. The governor asked for an additional $175 million for our roads — I hope we can find even more. Prioritizing funding for infrastructure will help create jobs, move our economy forward and make Michigan a more welcoming place.
- Increasing the Homestead Property Tax Credit. I support putting more money in the pockets of some of our most vulnerable citizens and allowing them to share in our state’s resurgence.
- Strengthening our public safety, including 130 new Michigan State Police troopers, 350 new corrections officers and 10 conservation officers. I believe a highly trained, culturally diverse and fully staffed law enforcement community is a vital component in any society. As a member of the State Police Subcommittee for the House Appropriations Committee, I want every citizen in Michigan to feel served and protected.
- Statutorily dedicating a minimum of $15 million to fire protection grants. As the home to Eastern Michigan University, fire protection grants make up a significant portion of our district’s revenue stream. I have long fought for fully funding this program and I am pleased that the governor also recognized the issue in his budget.
These are only a handful of the thousands of issues that will be debated as our nearly $57 billion state budget is hammered out over the next several months. I can’t predict what the final product will look like, but I can guarantee that it will be very different from what the governor proposed this week. Below I have included a link to the governor’s budget website. Please take a look at his ideas and let me know what you like, what you’d change and what we should scrap all together. I welcome your thoughts.