Thursday, June 26, 2008

Some Details on the '09 Budget

Bits and pieces of the budget agreement are being reported this morning - K-12, universities, and cities will see a bump in funding, but will it be enough to cover escalating costs? Time will tell, but indications are tuition will still go up, and schools and cities will still have to make cuts. One thing is for certain - something is better than nothing, and this budget process seems to have gone a lot smoother than expected.

The small print is still being negotiated, but here is what has been reported so far from a conglomeration of sources-

K-12. Detroit News is reporting an average of a $72 per pupil increase, MIRS reports a 1.5 percent increase, both the AP and Gongwer indicate the target will be set today - here is the AP's take -

A House-Senate conference committee likely will start meeting Thursday to decide how much more aid to give K-12 public schools, many of which run on a July 1 fiscal year and want to set their budgets -- another reason the Legislature plans to finish the budget this week.

Proposals have ranged between $55 to $110 more per student to $71 to $142, depending on how well a district is now funded. Districts now getting the per-student minimum of $7,204 would get the biggest increases.

Community colleges and universities will see a 1% increase. They also managed to get $220 million for capital outlay to be split evenly between the schools.

Revenue sharing to cities will increase 2% - down from the 4% originally proposed.

Gongwer reports a 0.5 percent cut from departments across the board. $50 million will be cut from the Dept. of Corrections budget, and there seems to be some indication that they are looking at capping some film credits under the Treasury's discretion. Careful, we don't want to scare Hollywood away. Will be interesting to see how they handle that one.

$100 million will not be put towards the Budget Stabilization Fund, but you knew that was coming. And hey look! Here's $20 million we can save in prescription coverage. Good deal. Love how they always manage to find a few million here and there when they need it.

Bits of good news - young adults will still receive Medicaid coverage. Money will be made available for No Worker Left Behind (yes!) and the 21st Century Jobs Fund - no solid figures yet, but both are important when it comes to training and getting people back to work. $4.8 million will go to the Detroit Zoo operational funds. Also, they are "taking a look" at the proposal to create smaller high schools - but nothing has been determined there yet.

Bits of ominous news, courtesy of the Detroit News-

Medicaid funding, a state trooper school to add 100 new officers and a tax break for the working poor were among items also on the bubble in the negotiations.

Uh oh. Go after the EITC and I’m going to have to yell at someone.

A couple of final thoughts - who needs Mike Bishop when we have George Cushingberry to dis the governor? And, you gotta love Bob Emerson. From MIRS-

Budget Director Bob EMERSON roamed the Senate this morning in a shirt from his daughter that read, "Don't piss me off. I'm running out of places to hide the bodies." He said there would be a deal today and he delivered.

"They're not that far apart," Emerson said. "It's the last yard that's the hardest."

"Everyone realizes the importance of not doing things like last year," he added.

By the afternoon, the shirt disappeared and a deal was at hand.

Good thing. We probably don't have the money to bury more bodies.