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Governor Snyder Signs 2015-16 Budget

Thursday, June 18, 2015  
Posted by: Alyssa Jones
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On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, Governor Rick Snyder signed the two bills to enact the 2015-16 budget and with the signing, has "hit five for five" during his administration: budgets done by June, balanced and with more money for K-12 education. 

"This is the fifth year in a row we've had a structurally balanced budget, a well-done budget, done by June," Mr. Snyder said before signing the bills. The omnibus budget is SB 133 and the education budget is HB 4115.

He compared Michigan to some other states that have fiscal years ending June 30 that are just now completing their budget work.

"One state finished their budget recently and they're hoping to find out in a couple days whether it solves their problem," he said.

Legislative leaders also praised the budget.

"This is really a priorities budget," House Speaker Keven Cotter (R-Mount Pleasant) said. "We put out so many of the fires and now it's about investing."

Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said he hoped the early completion of budgets could continue after his time in the Legislature. He has one more budget before being forced from the chamber under term limits.

Mr. Snyder did veto a provision in the main budget, but he characterized the strike-through as minor. The provision re-appropriated lapsed funds for the Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans, which he said were already addressed in other provisions of the budget.

The governor also found that sections regarding indemnification for livestock killed by predators, administration of the GED-to-school program, billing for road construction cost sharing were not enforceable.

And he acknowledged the budget does not include a permanent solution for transportation, given the failure of Proposal 15-1, but he said the funds in the bill tide the state over until that solution can be found.

"We understand we do need to improve transportation and we do need to come up with a long-term solution," he said. "This was a good interim step."

Mr. Snyder continued to refuse any comment on the House-developed plan and said he would not comment on the Senate plan, either, when it is unveiled. Rather, he said, the three leaders at that point would have to meet and hash out a solution.

The governor declined to say the transportation funding in the budget meant cuts for other programs. "It was just some good budgeting," he said. "There were a number of places where we reallocated resources."

Increases in the budget for K-12 education are also essential, Mr. Snyder said. In addition to the between $70 and $140 per pupil districts will see, he said the at-risk funding in the bill could add as much as $100 more per pupil for some districts.

"We have $30 million toward a proposal to say how can we make sure our students can read by third grade," Mr. Snyder said.

He also praised funds set aside for skilled trades training.

Stephanie Comai, director of the new Talent Investment Agency, said the funds would help to keep Michigan on its current recovery path.

"We need to make sure kids and adults know what jobs are available," Ms. Comai said. "(The budget) recognizes the critical importance of career planning and career and technical education."

Though the state still needs an additional federal waiver to continue its Healthy Michigan program, Mr. Snyder lauded the response to the plan, saying "600,000 Michiganders are now getting primary care instead of having to rely on the ER. He did not expect that the coming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would affect the state's program.

The federal court ruling is on the federal subsidies for insurance purchased through one of the federally-run exchanges, which Michigan has, not on the expanded Medicaid eligibility that more closely affects Healthy Michigan.

"We did it smarter than the federal government," he said.

As to how the ruling might affect the state's health insurance exchange: "We'll have to wait and see how that court case comes out and the response of the federal government," he said.

The budgets expand public safety both through funds for 88 more State Police troopers and 10 motor carrier officers, but also through the $500,000 grant for campus sexual assault prevention programs, he said.

Source: Gongwer News Service

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