Gov. Snyder Has Mixed Success With New Budget
LANSING (AP) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder got the extra police troopers and summer jobs programs for inner city youths he wanted in the new budget, but he failed to get lawmakers to tie education money to student performance or invest as much as he wanted in health initiatives.
The Republican governor also had to agree with a proposal to use $90 million to give individuals a slight income tax cut he initially opposed.
He later gave in after House Speaker Jase Bolger of Marshall and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville of Monroe, both Republicans, agreed to sock away $140 million more in the state’s rainy day fund and put $130 million toward school employees’ future retirement health care costs in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
As part of his health initiative, Snyder got the $3 million increase he sought for the Healthy Michigan Fund to help fight obesity and infant mortality.
On Medicaid, he was able to add $11.8 million to the Home and Community Based Waiver program to get those on waiting lists into the program more quickly. The administration also restored chiropractic services and the full adult vision program for low-income residents. Snyder was able to expand the Healthy Kids Dental program with $5.6 million in state money and $9 million in federal dollars, less than he proposed but still a significant increase.
A new initiative Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley pushed hard for will mandate insurance coverage for autism treatment for children and reimburse insurers through a $15 million autism coverage incentive fund. In addition, Medicaid now will cover autism treatment for children through the age of 18.
Snyder’s biggest success may have been in the area of public safety, where he got $15 million extra in the state police budget to run two new trooper schools and make other changes. The House and Senate went along with his call to add forensic scientists and equipment to reduce turnaround time on evidence to 30 days, and to beef up the DNA analysis staff.
The governor wants to reduce crime rates in Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw, and he got $2.8 million to help with patrols and investigations in those cities over the next year through assistance from the state police. He also got nearly $5 million to provide additional jail space in cities with high crime areas and nixed a requirement pushed by some House Republicans to close the Ionia prison and move 1,300 inmates to a private prison, likely the one owned by Florida-based GEO Group in Baldwin.
The new budget includes $3 million Snyder wanted for the Summer Youth Initiative, a program to be run by the Department of Natural Resources to give inner-city children something constructive to do in the summer and encourage them to consider parks or forestry careers.
Snyder also got his wish to invest more on state armory improvements, along with money to build a new armory in Flint. But his proposal to spend $19.2 million on capital improvements at state prisons got whittled down to $5.3 million for items such as Tasers and cellphone jammers.
He also ran into opposition from his fellow Republicans to fee increases. He wanted to raise nearly $650,000 through higher fees for the water withdrawal assessment program, but budget leaders in the GOP-controlled House and Senate disagreed. The compromise was to put $350,000 from the general fund into the program.
The governor also wanted to charge a $5 daily fee at state-owned shooting ranges outside state parks and charge for duplicate recreation certificates, but neither made it into the final budget bill.
His biggest request – that lawmakers raise more $1.4 billion more for roads – won’t be addressed until next year, even though Snyder warned last fall that delays would mean bigger repair bills later on.
Fearing lawmakers wouldn’t get the job done, Snyder’s initial budget proposal suggested transferring money from the general fund to the transportation fund to make sure Michigan had enough state dollars to get its full amount of federal matching dollars.
Lawmakers decided to take less money from the general fund and instead tap a portion of the revenue raised by the sales tax on motor fuels to make up much of the difference. They put a one-year limit on their actions, which could put more pressure early in 2013 to raise the extra $1.4 billion.
The reluctance of House members up for re-election in November to tackle a tax increase was one reason Snyder didn’t get his wish this year.
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