Archived Story

Budget deadline draws near…again

Published 9:27am Thursday, October 29, 2009

By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star

Lawmakers in Michigan are once again sitting on a deadline to finalize a state budget as the end of the month draws near.
Several bills presented to Gov. Jennifer Granholm have already been enacted, but some will slip by the deadline with vetoes that will require additional revisions that could stretch those particular budget finalizations into November.
“We’re not seeing any issues this week,” said state Rep. Sharon Tyler, adding that she expects the remaining submissions to be finalized by the end of the month.
But Niles lawmaker isn’t ruling anything out yet.
“I hear one thing,” she said. “And the other happens.”
Since the state voted to operate under an interim budget when they missed the initial deadline back at the end of September, five bills have been enacted with no additional action needing to be taken.
Those bills include community college, education, judiciary, military and veterans affairs and Transportation.
Four proposed bills have been signed by the governor with line item vetoes.
Tyler explained that means lawmakers in Lansing can respond with supplements or a two thirds vote to overturn the veto.
“The question is how we come back at that,” Tyler said.
Particularly in the case of school aid, which along with corrections, agriculture and natural resources and environmental quality carries significant vetoes attached.
According to Tyler, the school aid bill proposed a $165 cut to schools per student for the current school year. Granholm’s return of the bill increases that amount by $127 for a total decrease in aid to local schools of $292 per student.
Though that news might be bad enough for school districts across the state, the added rub is that the budget could still be finalized by deadline with vetoes intact – meaning a final answer on how much districts will have to do without may not come until some time in November.
“It will not take place this week,” Tyler said.
In an effort to pull in money to fill in a sizable deficit Tyler said she felt some options were not as appropriate as others.
Recently up for vote was a physician health care tax or “doctor’s tax” as it has been called. The tax, Tyler explained was an effort to gain revenue.
But she questioned the timing as health care remains a nationally controversial issue.
Another option, she said, that rests on the Senate side of the line is to freeze tax credits applicable to the film industry for making movies in Michigan.
“I think the people can live with that,” she said, “rather than another tax on going to see the doctor.”
The Senate voted against the “doctor’s tax.”
Bills that remain on the governor’s desk are community health, energy, labor and economic growth, higher education, human services and state police.
Those bills could very well be passed through with additional line item vetoes meaning there is still work to be done in Lansing and budget woes are far from over.

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