|Do you have an opinion? 6-21
Sunday, November 11, 2007
After months of long hours and hard work, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed a balanced budget plan to solve our state's unprecedented fiscal crisis. The budget plan, which covers the 2008 fiscal year, is a mix of cuts, reforms and revenues that protects funding for vital services and gets Michigan's economy back on track.
By making reductions in nearly all state department budgets, the plan saves the state more than $400 million. This plan does not rely on one-time fixes; it is a budget solution that made difficult cuts while also making critical investments in public safety, education and job creation.
Over the past few months I have received hundreds of letters, e-mails and phone calls from citizens concerned about the budget process.
I want to use this opportunity to outline some of the budgetary decisions we made and how they will help move our great state forward. Of course, it would be impossible to detail the entire budget in this newsletter. If you ever have any questions or concerns about the budget or any other matter, please feel free to contact my office at any time.
I believe that we need to adequately fund our schools if we want Michigan to be a leader in the 21st century global economy. One of my top priorities during the budget sessions was to ensure that urban schools such as the Lansing Public School District were not overlooked in terms of school equity payments. Lansing received a $48 per-pupil foundation increase and a $36 per-pupil equity increase for the current fiscal year. Though I had hoped for a greater increase for K-12 education, this means an overall increase of $1.1 million for the Lansing School District, which will allow for the retention of teachers in high-demand subjects such as math and science and keep class sizes small.
Community colleges play an increasingly important role in preparing our students for the good-paying jobs of the 21st century. As Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Community Colleges, I was pleased that we were able to increase operations funding for Lansing Community College and the state's other 27 community colleges by 1 percent. While I had hoped we could increase community college budgets by 2.5 percent, as was passed by the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year, these difficult fiscal times required tough decisions.
An important component in Michigan's economic recovery is to increase the number of college graduates so we can attract high-tech, high-paying jobs. Though I had hoped for a greater increase, I am pleased that we were able to increase operations funding for the state's 15 public universities by 1 percent. The appropriations bill also puts the state's three research universities – Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University – into their own separate category within the budget, a move that was very important to MSU. In addition, the budget includes a half-percent increase for MSU's cooperative extension program and agricultural experimental station.
Department of Human Services
The agreement we reached on the DHS budget will save Michigan $80 million in the 2007-2008 fiscal year alone without reducing or eliminating services to our most vulnerable citizens. Key provisions include putting 150 new caseworkers in local DHS offices across the state to reduce Michigan's staggering caseloads, increasing funding for day care providers, and drawing $12 million more in federal Title IV-E funding to help support the children in Michigan's foster care and juvenile justice systems.
This bill will generate $51.2 million in savings for Michigan, much of which comes from the Governor's previously announced prison closures. It also will provide for expanded funding for the Michigan Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative, which has led to significant success in lowering recidivism rates. The bill adjusts the Department of Correction's contracting, pricing, and scheduling practices for prisoner health care, which could provide for additional savings in the future.
History, Arts and Libraries
While the Governor had recommended a 50 percent cut to libraries, I'm pleased to say that the final budget restored most of the funding.
This budget will save the state $52 million without major cuts to the programs that protect our most vulnerable residents. The $43.5 million Healthy Michigan Fund – which pays for disease prevention programs – received only a $900,000 cut, compared to much more drastic proposals from the Senate. The Healthy Kids Dental Program received a small increase and Medicaid funding for providers and relative caregivers was protected.
House of Representatives