LANSING – An environmental quality budget for 2015-16 that largely follows the recommendation of Governor Rick Snyder’s recommendation was reported to the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.
The DEQ Appropriations Subcommittee reported SB 121 on a 2-0 vote, with Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) abstaining. The budget totals $487.9 million, with $35.4 million in General Funds.
The total budget is nearly $14.7 million less than the current year’s appropriation, and the General Fund portion is nearly $5.5 million less than the current year.
The budget is also about $1.2 million more than Snyder’s total recommendation, though the subcommittee made no change to his General Fund proposal.
The budget also presumes additional air quality fee revenues from a proposed increase, of $2.25 million to a total of $11.9 million. However, the subcommittee chair, Sen. Mike Green (R-Mayville), said all the proposed fee increases will be enacted first in the House, if the chamber decides to move them.
And if those air fee increases are approved, then the budget requires that a person be hired to oversee air quality programs in the Upper Peninsula.
The budget also presumes that fee sunsets, that could cost the DEQ some $27.1 million, are either eliminated or extended. Those too would require legislative action.
Among the major changes from the current budget is the refined petroleum product cleanup program is reduced $12.9 million as there are sufficient reserves in the current fund to cover much of the reduction. The budget differs from the governor’s recommendation in that it does not remove intent language that $70 million borrowed from the fund in the 2006-07 fiscal year be repaid.
In addition, the budget differs from Snyder’s proposal by retaining a list of sites, which the committee also updated, to be financed from the fund’s revenues.
The budget also allows funds from the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund to provide monies to remedy privately owned tanks that are leaking.
The budget also cuts $2.95 million from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund. The budget presumes that using repayments from earlier loans and the remaining allocation of $2 million in the fund the state would meet all matching fund requirements with the federal government.
This story was provided by Gongwer News Service. To subscribe, click on Gongwer.Com