New Legislature Convenes Wednesday

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press
The state

The Michigan Capitol is shown at twilight Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009, in Lansing, Mich. Lawmakers continue work on budget bills that deal with a $2.8 billion shortfall before an Oct. 1 deadline. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

The state's budget problems are likely to preoccupy lawmakers as the new Michigan Legislature convenes Wednesday.

Lawmakers are scheduled to gather at the state Capitol for swearing-in ceremonies connected to the 2011-12 session. Republicans hold a 26-12 edge over Democrats in the Senate and a 63-47 advantage in the House, teaming with new Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

The most pressing business for state lawmakers is erasing a roughly $1.8 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year that starts in October. State fiscal analysts are scheduled to make an official estimate of state tax revenues at a conference on Friday, while Snyder likely will present his first budget proposal in February.

Republicans want to try to erase the deficit without tax increases while restructuring the state's main business tax. That could result in deep spending cuts to a variety of state programs, including the tax revenue sharing payments that go to local governments.

State employees might also be asked for concessions.

Twenty-nine of the state's 38 senators are new to their jobs this year, although most have previous experience in the House.

More than half of the House's 110 members will be new this year.

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