State Budget: Where does the money go?
LANSING (AP) – The nearly $49 billion state budget signed Thursday by Gov. Rick Snyder takes effect in Oct. 1. Some highlights:
Spending on road and bridge maintenance increases by $350 million due to higher-than-expected income tax collections. It’s far short of the $1.2 billion a year Snyder is seeking to address declining gasoline tax revenues associated with people driving less and with more fuel-efficient cars. Talks continue in the Capitol.
Overall spending on public K-12 schools rises about 3 percent. Each school’s funding is based on formulas. The minimum per-pupil grant goes from $6,966 to $7,026, and the basic grant increases from $8,019 to $8,049. Lower-funded districts get a one-time “equity” payment of up to $50 per student, and all districts can continue qualifying for some extra funding by meeting certain benchmarks. The state will cover more costs for retiree pensions and health care.
The state is blocked from paying to implement a set of more rigorous national benchmarks – known as Common Core – for reading, writing and math unless the Legislature authorizes moving ahead.
As many as 16,000 more disadvantaged 4-year-olds will go to preschool thanks to an influx of up to $65 million, a nearly 60 percent bump. Operations funding for public universities and communities colleges rises 2 percent, with each school’s increase varying. Universities must keep tuition increases at or below 3.75 percent to get some money tied to performance.
LOCAL POLICE AND FIRE
State revenue-sharing payments to local governments rise by 4 percent. The funding often is used to pay for police and firefighters.
About 70,000 more low-income children are eligible for a dental coverage program that provides more access to dentists because it pays better rates than Medicaid does. With the Healthy Kids Dental program’s expansion into Ingham, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties, it will be available in 78 of 83 counties. The state’s biggest counties remain without the program: Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent and Kalamazoo.
Another $75 million is put into savings, bringing the rainy day fund to nearly $600 million.
TROOPERS AND GUARDS
The state plans to add 107 police troopers to the roads, train 400 new correctional officers and hire more conservation officers.
An increase in hunting and fishing fees is assumed in the budget. Separate legislation to raise the fees has passed the House and is pending in the Senate.