Michigan Legislature On Track to Finalize State Budget by End of May

By Doug Paterson, Director of State Policy, Michigan Primary Care Association

This week at the State Capitol, conference committees began meetings.   Most of their work concentrated on “boilerplate” language that accompanies the budgets to give direction to the executive branch regarding intent and requirements tied to expenditure of the funds in the budget.  Many of the committees, including the one for the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) budget,  are waiting on “targets” (bottom lines) for the budgets.  The determination of targets was dependent on decisions about how the extra revenue projected during Monday’s Revenue Estimating Conference would be spent.  Those decisions were finalized on Thursday. An extra $310 million in funding will be given to K-12 schools as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget$150 million will be distributed on a per-pupil basis to districts that demonstrate “best practices” while the remaining $160 million will be used to help districts cover retirement costs.

Another $30 million is being given to local units of government, half of which is going to municipalities as part of the Governor’s “Economic Vitality Incentive” grants. The other half will go into county revenue sharing.

Another $50 million will be added to the Michigan Strategic Fund for economic development activities, such as brownfield redevelopment and historic preservation incentives.

That means the MDCH budget is not likely to change too much from the levels of funding already assumed in the House and Senate versions passed so far.   From my conversations with committee members, I do anticipate that the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) will be funded, but probably not from the Healthy Michigan Fund. I also anticipate that the Healthy Michigan Fund will be saved but only at about $5 million, and this funding will be targeted toward initiatives that impact infant mortality and obesity (the Governor’s dashboard measures for Public Health).  It is still very much up in the air whether funding for Local Public Health support will end up being cut 5% as the Senate has proposed or 10% as the House has proposed.

My guess is that we will know most everything by this time next week, as I believe the conference committees will complete their budget work by then and both Houses will pass the budget the following week.  There continues to be a strong commitment to meet the Governor’s proposed “end of May” deadline, which will be very unique since none of the last four years of budgets have been passed before September.  If nothing else, Republicans want to be sure the public sees that things this year are not “business as usual”.

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