LANSING – The Michigan House and Senate are well on their way to completing their versions of the budget, and there are some striking differences between the two.
The biggest one is that while the House budget bills spend $164.6 million less General Fund than Governor Rick Snyder, the Senate budgets are just $9.4 million under Mr. Snyder’s revised recommendation for the 2018-19 fiscal year. While the Senate is close to the governor’s General Fund spending level, it does have some wide variances in individual departmental budgets.
Some of that gap is somewhat a matter of semantics. While the Senate spent $90.5 million more in General Fund on K-12 school aid than Mr. Snyder recommended, the House spent $15 million less, making for a $105.5 million gap between the two chambers. But the House made up the difference with money from the School Aid Fund, so the amount actually spent on K-12 is not that different.
A big gap between the two chambers surfaced in the general government budget – where the House spent $63.5 million less General Fund than Mr. Snyder, mainly in the departments of Talent and Economic Development and Technology, Management and Budget while the Senate was $11.3 million below the governor.
Another major gap between the House and Senate was in the higher education budget. The Senate spent $15.2 million General Fund more than Mr. Snyder while the House spent $14.6 million less.
And in Health and Human Services, while the Senate spent $25 million less than Mr. Snyder in General Fund, the House was even stingier, spending $34 million less.
Three other areas where the Senate spent more than the House were Agriculture (Senate spent $5.65 million more General Fund than the governor while the House stuck with the governor’s recommended General Fund spending level), State Police (the Senate was $4.2 million above Mr. Snyder on General Fund while the House was just $400,000 above the governor) and Military and Veterans Affairs (the Senate was $2.1 million above Mr. Snyder while the House was $1.3 million under.
One budget where the House spent more than the Senate was Corrections with the Senate $25 million under the governor’s recommendation and the House $18 million under it.
House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) said he has some ideas on what to do with the money the House pared from Mr. Snyder’s recommendation.
“I would like to see more money into roads if we can,” he said. “I am a big advocate for mental health reform. Certainly, if there are mental health programs that are lacking, we can talk about putting money into those as well. But we have to get the first two House bills passed next week and then the real negotiations will start with our partners in the Senate.”
Rep. Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit) did offer an amendment Wednesday to use the leftover fund for roads, but it failed in committee.
This story was published by Gongwer News Service