House Democrats are applauding the bipartisan effort to pass a budget proposal out of the House Appropriations Committee today. While noting there is still room for improvement on the current proposal, House Democrats see adoption of several of their amendments as a positive sign moving forward in the negotiation process.

“I am happy that cooperation in the Appropriations Committee has yielded some good results. This is an important marker in the progress toward protecting seniors, children and hardworking Michigan families,” said state Representative Pam Faris (D-Clio), member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Democrats will continue working to get more of our priorities in the budget to improve access to benefits and better support services. Especially important in the work yet to be done is improving the response to the Flint water crisis.”

The budget proposal includes long-awaited funding for firefighter cancer presumption, an issue that has been pushed for heavily by House Democrats, who have consistently voiced their belief that taking care of those in public service is a duty.

Other highlights include:

  • An amendment from House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) to fund treatment and prevention of the Zika virus, including mosquito abatement programs, education and screenings.
  • Funding for sexual assault prevention programs, introduced in an amendment by Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), which is currently available in only 33 of the 83 counties in Michigan due to a lack of funds.
  • A Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) amendment to include funding for an ombudsman for the two veterans’ homes in Michigan to address and investigate complaints.
  • An amendment from Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) to invest $3.15 million into home heating assistance in order to leverage almost $140 million in federal food stamp assistance. This results in 160,000 people receiving an additional $76 of assistance every month.

“To get some victories by prioritizing additional funding for crucial services such as rape prevention and home heating assistance is a win for the entire state, however we are not done fighting to ensure that our state budget better reflects our Democratic values,” House Appropriations Committee member Pagan said. “With my amendment included, you can be sure House Democrats will continue to fight tirelessly for our children, working families and seniors.”

“This was a good first step in the process. I appreciate Republican members’ willingness to work with Democrats to make some significant improvements to this budget,” said Appropriations Committee member Singh. “However, this budget is far from being from being finished. I hope that in the coming weeks, we can continue bipartisan negotiations to finalize a budget that reflects the priorities the citizens of Michigan and better provides for the needs of middle-class families.”