Each spring, the legislature works to craft a budget to fund the operations of state government for the next fiscal year. The Legislature has worked hard over the last six fiscal years to finalize the state budget ahead of schedule — which for many years was not the case.
After years of economic distress, Michigan has taken the necessary steps to improve the state’s fiscal outlook, right-size government, control growth and continue our responsible spending into the new fiscal year.
Last week the Senate passed both the omnibus general government budget and education budget packages. The budget, totaling $52 billion, $36 billion for the general budget and $16 billion in education funding, would fund the state for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
In addition to the general government and education budgets, the Senate also approved additional resources for water testing, health assessments and other issues associated with the Flint water crisis. The Senate Committee on Appropriations is also considering additional funding, which would also include federal aid, to provide immediate care for Flint’s pregnant women and children who may have been exposed to lead.
The Senate continues to increase its investment in education by including more than $14 billion for K-12 funding — the largest expenditure to date. The omnibus education budget, includes funding for K-12 education, state universities and community colleges.
Additional highlights in the 2016-2017 budget include:
- Requiring doctors to check the Michigan Automated Prescription System, or MAPS, before prescribing medications to new patients. MAPS is used to identify and prevent drug diversion at all levels, from the doctor, to the pharmacy, to the patient. Additional funding is included to assist with tracking violations and holding bad actors accountable;
- An additional $3 million appropriation to the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund, which provides funding for the care of the state’s firefighters who are diagnosed with certain work-related cancers. This comes after the Senate recently approved an appropriation of $1 million in the current fiscal year to care for our first responders; and
- An investment in public safety by extending the “Secure Cities” partnership as well as including funding to train 100 new officers within the Michigan State Police.
- Tracking how much the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs spends on travel reimbursements and what the purposes of trips are. Problems have surfaced in recent years regarding the capacity in which state workers utilized state-owned vehicles and the costs they claimed for doing so. This reform would require the department to track what traveling employees do on taxpayer dollars;
- Continuing to improve Michigan’s long-term finances by paying down over a billion dollars of debt owed by the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System.
It has always been a priority of mine to ensure that our tax dollars are used effectively while supporting critical functions of state government. This budget funds the priorities important to Michigan residents while ensuring accountability for Michigan taxpayers.