LANSING – Michigan House Democrats today voiced their disappointment in a newly passed 2012-13 state budget that fails to repeal painful tax increases to middle-class families and seniors, puts the public at risk by privatizing prison services and reducing prison patrols, underfunds police and fire services and gives the governor’s hand-picked appointees $3.7 million in salary increases.

“The budget passed by the Michigan House of Representatives today does little to reassure Michigan residents that their priorities and concerns are shared by the Republicans who rule the Legislature,” said House Democratic Leader Richard E. Hammel (Mount Morris Township). “Instead of a budget that addressed the pressing needs of the people of Michigan, what they got was more of the same: no tax relief for their families, the outsourcing of public services to for-profit corporations and more uncertainty for our communities.”

Of particular concern, the budget:

  • Increases salaries for governor-appointed highest paid positions by more than $3.7 million. This was done without bipartisan approval or discussion, violating the transparency values Republicans claim to uphold.

  • Deposits money in savings accounts while it continues the tax on seniors and doesn’t eliminate other recent tax changes, such as the reduction to the homestead exemption tax credit and elimination of the child deduction.

  • Creates greater uncertainty for counties, cities and townships that provide police and fire service by tying local government revenue sharing to untested “best practices” that make it difficult to budget public safety expenses.

  • Reduces prison staffing which puts the safety of those living near prisons at greater risk.

“This budget is a big step backward for the men, women and children of Michigan who rely on government to provide for their safety,” said Richard LeBlanc (Westand), minority vice-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and a former police officer. “When cities and counties can’t rely on revenue sharing from the state, they struggle to provide adequate police and fire services. And when prisons see staffing reduced and fewer perimeter patrols and gun towers, families who live near them aren’t reassured that their safety is our priority.”

The 603-page omnibus budget was rushed through in three hours by the Republican-dominated Legislature that was in a hurry to complete a budget and start the summer break a month ahead of schedule. The budget process allowed for no input from Democratic lawmakers and gave legislators no time to read and fully understand all that the budget entailed.

“We owe it to the people who elected us to stay here until we can create a budget that is fair and addresses the needs of the people of Michigan,” said Democratic House Floor Leader Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek). “Rather than rushing through an omnibus budget and start summer a month early, we should be working to reduce taxes on middle-class families and seniors. Michiganders are right to expect more from us than a token nickel-a-day tax relief gimmick while the governor’s friends get pay raises.”