LANSING (AP) – The Michigan House on Tuesday approved a $37.9 billion general budget bill that would mostly align with Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan but also break with him by discontinuing $50 million in moviemaking incentives and trimming state revenue sharing to Detroit.
The 59-51 vote, which was almost entirely along party lines in the Republican-led chamber, set the stage for further talks in mid-May when legislators get updated revenue projections. The House on Wednesday is expected to pass its $15.8 billion education budget – billed by the majority as the highest ever – and the GOP-controlled Senate could approve its spending bills next week.READ MORE: White Supremacist Group Member Tristan Webb Is 4th Convicted In Michigan
Legislative leaders want the budget completed by June, four months before the fiscal year begins. The plan could change drastically if Michigan voters next week approve a sales tax increase to trigger more money for deteriorating roads.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Al Pscholka, a Stevensville Republican, said the omnibus non-education bill is “not sexy” but would responsibly contain spending and reduce debt.
“We protect our kids and grandkids, eliminate corporate welfare,” he said.
Democrats criticized Republicans for not adopting an amendment designed to stop senators’ move into a nicer office building and reducing Detroit’s overall revenue sharing by $4 million, or 2 percent, after the state helped the city emerge from bankruptcy last year. A last-minute change that would prohibit Michigan’s health agency from paying state funds to Planned Parenthood for family planning also drew the ire of Democrats who warned it could endanger hospitals’ funding.
State money already cannot be used specifically for abortion counseling, referrals or services under current law.
House Speaker Kevin Cotter, a Mount Pleasant Republican, said no state dollars went to Planned Parenthood in this budget or the last budget, but some Republicans had an interest in “shoring that up.” He said the provision was written narrowly to target clinics that provide elective abortions and other abortion services and would not apply to federal money in the budget.
Rep. Sam Singh, an East Lansing Democrat countered: “You are putting at risk women (by) trying to pass a social issue into our state budget.”READ MORE: Auburn Hills Restaurant, Owners Face Felony Charges For Underreporting Sales, Failing To File Tax Returns
The House’s move to cut Detroit’s aid would let funding continue for 101 townships that would no longer get state payments under Snyder’s plan.
The House did not include the Republican governor’s proposed increase in a tax that health insurers and HMOs pay on claims to help the state secure federal Medicaid funding.
It also proposed no funding for an incentives program designed to lure the production of films and TV shows. Snyder called for $50 million after he was forced to cut this year’s allotment to $38 million due to mid-year budget problems. Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof has supported funding the program.
Republicans rejected Democrats’ attempts to block spending to move senators a block away to a new building. Former Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville’s decision to move – since backed by Meekhof – led to the issuance of $70 million in bonds to buy the new offices.
“The House had an opportunity to actually make a statement on this boondoggle Senate office building,” said Rep. Brandon Dillon, a Grand Rapids Democrat.
Cotter accused Democrats of “attempting to turn this into a political football” and said there is no money in the proposed 2015-16 budget for the 2017 move. He indicated there is little the House can do about the Senate’s decision but said he would be open to considering legislation that would limit a legislative chamber’s ability to seek bonds on its own in the future.
Richardville has said the current Senate building needs extensive and expensive work to remove asbestos and upgrade security and heating and cooling.MORE NEWS: Researchers Meet To Discuss Ways To Reduce Micro-Plastics In The Great Lakes
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