Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Budget Done: Who Had September 29th?

Check your squares! Who had the late afternoon of September 29th? You may have won fabulous prizes!

Yes, the legiscritters managed to take this down to the last 30 hours of the fiscal year (insert eyeroll here), but ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we have a state budget.

Michigan lawmakers wrapped up the key pieces of the next state budget on Wednesday, without tax increases and with spending cuts in many programs other than aid to public schools.

The Legislature was beating its budget-balancing deadline that coincides with the start of the new fiscal year Friday. Lawmakers missed similar deadlines in 2007 and 2009.

Some of the final bills passed Wednesday by the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-run House included money for road projects and human services such as foster care and child welfare.

Lawmakers are erasing a projected $484 million deficit in the next budget. The deficit would have been far larger if it weren't for extra federal help.

No doubt. As Christoff was quick to point out, this budget contains $1 billion in federal aid, and we can thank the Congressional Democrats for helping us to avoid some really brutal cuts on top of the cuts we had to make - for this year at least.

As far as the next budget being $1.6B in the hole? You can thank the Republicans for that. Better do it quick though, because just as sure as I'm sitting here, they are going to start blaming the Democrats any... second... now...

UPDATE: Some details from the DNews:

• The restoration of $154 per student to public school districts in the new fiscal year. Schools that had been bracing for more cuts will get at least $7,339 per student -- $23 more than schools received this past fiscal year. Earlier this year, $154 per student had been cut from school funding to help erase a deficit in the 2010 budget.

Most community colleges will be safe from operating budget cuts, but universities face a 2.8 percent reduction.

• The Legislature scraped together $84 million the state needed to put up to receive $500 million in federal road project funds. The state will sell short-term notes, redirect some driver's license fees and use savings in other areas to raise the money.

• The proposed bridge between Detroit and Canada took a hit. The Department of Transportation budget limits spending on the Detroit River International Crossing to traffic study contracts already signed. Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, railed against the project on the floor of the Senate, calling it a "boondoggle."

"MDOT's credit card has been revoked," Cropsey said.

• Approval in the Department of Human Services budget to hire 684 additional child welfare workers, 417 of whom will work in child protective services. Those additional workers will cost the state $37.1 million.

Those workers are "desperately needed," said Sharon Parks, president of the Michigan League for Human Services. "There were some good things, like the restoration of some optional services (for the poor), such as adult dental and podiatric care."

Good to hear about the child protective service workers. And Cropsey can be responsible for the loss of thousands of construction jobs. Don't let the door hit ya, Alan...