by Douglas M. Paterson, MPA, Director of State Policy, Michigan Primary Care Association
On February 5, Governor Rick Snyder presented to a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015, which begins October 1, 2014. The major themes of his budget focus on significant increases to higher education (6.1% increase), K-12 education (3% increase), local government (15% increase), and Early Childhood Education ($65 million).
Of political interest is a proposal to provide some tax relief in the way of higher Homestead Property Tax credits. This is in contrast to some of the proposals already put forward by both the House and Senate to lower the income tax (see “Senate, House Deliberating Income Tax Cut Proposals” in the January 31, 2014, issue of the MPCA eUpdate).
Of particular interest to Michigan Health Centers are proposals to expand the Healthy Kids Dental program to Kalamazoo and Macomb counties ($15.7 million), increase funding for nurse home visitation in Northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula ($2.5 million), and to begin funding the implementation of recommendations for strengthening the state’s mental health system as outline in the Mental Health and Wellness Commission’s report released last month ($15.6 million). (See “Michigan’s Mental Health & Wellness Commission Releases Recommendations in Comprehensive Report” in the January 24, 2014, issue of the MPCA eUpdate for a summary of “Improving the Quality of Life by Supporting Independence and Self-Determination.”)
Lest we forget last year’s battles so soon, Governor Snyder’s FY 2015 budget proposal includes funding to continue implementation of the Healthy Michigan Plan (Michigan’s expanded Medicaid program). The Governor actually projects a $243.4 million SAVINGS to the state in FY 2015 because many services currently covered entirely by state funds will now be covered partially by the federal government as a result of Medicaid expansion. We need to continue to recognize and celebrate this important achievement!
Lastly, one area of concern in the Governor’s proposed budget is that it does not call for the continuation of $1.4 million in Graduate Medical Education funding that was allocated for spending in the current fiscal year (FY 2014).
Budget hearings will now begin in both the Michigan House and Senate, with a target date of June 1, 2014, for finalization. MPCA will continue to follow these budgets and keep you updated.