Michigan lawmakers are on the cusp of finalizing a $57 billion state budget, in what may be their last major move before a three-month summer recess.
Work on the spending plan has been overshadowed lately by legislative fights over repealing a construction wage law, implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients and letting a recreational marijuana initiative go to the statewide ballot. But the budget remains of huge consequence, impacting many corners of Michigan life — including schools, roads and other government services.
The Republican-led Legislature is expected to approve the plan Tuesday, on what could be the final day of voting. Some highlights:
Base funding for K-12 districts will rise by between $120 and $240 per student, or 1.4 percent to 3.1 percent. The hike in the minimum grant — the biggest in 17 years — will benefit 84 percent of districts and all charter schools. Snyder again lost a bid to cut spending on online charters and shared-time aid that goes to public schools that enroll nonpublic students part time in non-core elective classes.
Transportation spending will go up by more than $300 million, or 7 percent, under a deal to shift more general funds to road and bridge work than is required under 2015 laws designed to improve deteriorating streets and highways.
One of the state's 30 prisons will be closed, saving $19 million due to a declining overall inmate population. Corrections officials have not decided which facility to close. Staff will be laid off, though it is not known how many because they may be transferred to other prisons if they are willing. The prison closure will be the third since 2016.
Legislation moving in tandem with the budget earmarks $100 million for Snyder's plan to better prepare students for an estimated 811,000 openings in in-demand careers through 2024 — including information technology, computer science, health care and manufacturing. School districts that emphasize competency-based learning and training students for high-demand fields will compete for state grants if they partner with businesses in "talent consortiums." One facet: Students who obtain an in-demand workforce certificate will split $500 with their district.
The state will spend $58 million to boost school safety after mass shootings in Florida and Texas, including $25 million to upgrade door locks and other security features. About $30 million will be used to expand mental health and support services, though details are unlikely to be worked out until the summer. Related policy bills may not be finalized until the fall.
Reimbursement to autism providers who serve Medicaid recipients will be cut by $34 million, or a third, by imposing a fee schedule. Caseloads have risen sharply, especially after the state expanded eligibility to those ages 6 to 21. The budget accounts for the increasing demand.
The state police will spend nearly $12 million to train and hire 155 new troopers, including 80 to replace personnel lost to attrition.
Universities that raise tuition by more than 3.8 percent or $490, whichever is greater, will lose some of their funding for the next three fiscal years. They also will have to comply with new requirements in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State, such as providing an in-person sexual assault prevention presentation to incoming freshmen and transfer students and requiring that the president and governing board get regular reports on aggregated campus sexual misconduct data.
The budget includes $84 million in new spending to improve court-provided legal defense for poor people accused of crimes. It will help local governments meet four initial standards approved last year. Those include ensuring that defense counsel is at the defendant's first court appearance and other stages, and that the public defender is adequately trained and has resources to retain experts.
Legislators rejected Snyder's proposed increase in a state fee for taking waste to landfills, which would raise $79 million for environmental cleanup, recycling grants and other priorities. They instead will allocate $25 million to partially offset the loss of revenue from a voter-approved bond issue that is expected to dry up this year.
Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00. His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/David%20Eggert