Bills Pass, But Budget Won't Be Final By June 1

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

The state House has found the $800 million it needed to avoid spending more than the state takes in.

"The alternative was a shutting down of government and cutting schools with five weeks left in their fiscal year, cutting people off Medicaid," House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) said.

The last two pieces to avoid that alternative? More than $100 million in surplus money will be moved from a higher education loan trust fund. An additional $400 million comes from future funds from the state's big tobacco settlement.

They are two one-time fixes to plug the budget hole.

"This is 20 years of problems we're dealing to deal with in five months. And that's difficult to do," Dillon said.

"Nobody is happy with everything we've done but altogether, it was good way to balance this year's budget and we'll begin working on next year's budget," Rep. Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt) said.

Dillon says next year's budget is under discussion. The state is expected to be more than $3 billion in deficit for the fiscal year starting in the fall.

A new business tax could replace a significant amount of that revenue. Some lawmakers are considering higher personal income tax rates to make up much of the rest of that deficit.

But this year's budget isn't even done yet.

The Senate still needs to take up the bills and because of a procedural rule, that won't happen until next week.

It means the budget won't be finalized by June 1, the deadline the governor had set in order to avoid any cuts to schools or healthcare.

The governor's budget office and some lawmakers say they're confident they have a few extra days to work with to avoid those cuts.

Schools don't get their next payment from the state until June 30. And the doctors and hospitals who take Medcaid patients should be getting a letter saying they won't see the cuts once predicted.

So the Senate has some time to work.

"The piece is in place and next Tuesday they'll come and I am sure pass it and we're all set," Dillon said.


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