Budget Sent To The Gov; Here’s Top 3 Things Legislative Leaders Like About It
September 28, 2021
Around $53 billion in Fiscal Year 2022 spending was sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Wednesday morning after the House and Senate gave quick approval to the widely praised spending document.
SB 0082 — a $50.7 billion general government omnibus — passed the House, 99-6, less than 24 hours after the Senate adopted the same spending document unanimously. Spending for state universities and community colleges passed 97-8 passed shortly before 11 a.m. The Senate put its stamp, 34-2, on the spending document before noon.
Nearly every legislator found a unique reason to support a budget that starts nine days from Wednesday. With no shortage of federal or state income tax and sales tax revenue, several of the Governor’s spending priorities and Republicans’ fiscal management goals were met.
While the House and Senate put several restrictions on public health mandates in the budget, the Governor’s office announced Wednesday afternoon that its aware of the “likely unenforceable or unconstitutional language.” “The legislature is doing their work this week,” said the Governor on Mackinac Island. “They’re going to send it to us soon. As it comes, we will do our task of going through line by line of the budget to see what is enforceable, what might not be enforceable, and then I will do my action and get it signed and make some changes if necessary.” She emphasized that she “negotiated all of the budget items” with the Legislature and that leaders “agreed on the vast majority of them, some we still don’t see eye-to-eye on, that’s OK.” When asked directly if she felt she had the authority to nix boilerplate, she responded, “You’ve seen me do it, so yes.” That could be the case for threatening the funding for county health agencies that impose mask mandates in schools, but House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Albert (R-Lowell) said banning the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) from spending money to create a vaccine passport is rock solid.
Ten House members took turns praising different aspects of the budget before it passed with only a spattering of conservative Republicans voting no.
Asked which three things they are most happy with passing in the FY 2022 budget the following leaders said:
1. Prohibiting state government entities from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of accessing any state services or facilities and additional restrictions on the production of a vaccination passport.
2. The $150 million for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund so employers — who pay 100% into the fund — are not stuck paying for the fraudulent claims that were paid out during the pandemic.
3. The emphasis on supporting crisis pregnancies and maternal health, making sure those moms-to-be are connected with resources.
House DHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp.):
1. “We had 30 recommendations coming out of the adoption and foster care task force and over half of them were able to be put right into this budget . . . from having a way to have funds for caseworkers when the go rescue somebody to getting that child food or some clothes.”
2. An “historical” $9 increase for the private agencies who take care of foster children from $46.20 per diem to $55.20 per diem, plus a 12% increase to independent living. The total spend is $21.3 million
3. Behavioral health, particularly money for early intervention services and expansion of a program that addresses psychological and physical health needs for the state’s most at risk populations.
1. The “huge investment” in Michigan’s families through the $1.5 billion in child care access expenditure, which goes to increase eligibility while raising provider rates.
2. The $135 million in additional funding for job training programs like Going Pro (employer-based training grants), Michigan Reconnect (tuition free community college for those 25 and older) and Futures for Frontliners (free community college for “frontline” workers).
3. The 5% increase in higher education. “We haven’t had that since I’ve been here. Instead, we’ve seen 30 years of disinvestment from higher education and I’m very excited that we could get there in a bipartisan way.”
House Appropriations Committee Minority Vice Chair Joe Tate(D-Detroit):
1. “I know we talked a lot about childcare, but that’s such a huge piece.”
2. “There’s funding for water infrastructure grants and that’s helpful for my district. We’ve had to hold back the Detroit River with sandbags and other temporary dams.”
Budget Director Dave Massaron:
1. The child care package is something the Legislature and the Governor’s office will be proud of and something that he believes is sustainable in the long run.
2. “We had the largest deposit ($500 million) into the Rainy Day Fund in the state’s history.”
3. “Marking smart decisions for the long-term future of the state is something we should all be proud of.”
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Stamas (R-Midland):
1. “The ability to work with Director Massaron and Rep. Albert. I think that they both brought a professionalism and a spirit for a great discussion that is positive for Michigan families and businesses.”
2. “Both childcare and the School Aid Budget that we passed out earlier. We add individuals to child care, but don’t create a long large clip for them in the future.”
3. “Public safety and funding for our local communities. Also, we were able to help our hospitals with multiple projects.”
On the House floor, 10 members took turns highlighting specific points in the budget.
Rep. Brad Paquette (R-Niles) highlighted a Department of Education budget and the injection of $1.5 billion in child care funding.
Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Mt. Pleasant), as a former factory worker, highlighted the return-to-work programs.
Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) called passing the budget the “morally right thing to do” due to the money put toward better flood control, erosion mitigation and lead line replacement efforts in Benton Harbor.
Whiteford stressed the funding for the child welfare system, foster care, adoption, independent living options for vulnerable adults, grants to senior centers, human trafficking and the $2.35 an hour increase for direct care workers.
Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) praised the additional funding for bridges in his area, which are in such poor repair truck traffic is running through neighborhoods to prevent the rumble and tumble of the roads.
Rep. Annette Glenn (R-Midland) stressed $19 million for dam safety grants and $14 million to address PFAS remediation.
Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi) heralded the improved access to childcare the $1.5 billion in federal money will bring. She said the money will also “dramatically increase the quality of caregivers.”
Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp.) brought up the $6.7 million for sickle cell anemia, a condition that disproportionately impacts African Americans, and $31.8 million in initiatives to address health disparities, such as why Black women are more likely to die from pregnancy than white women.
Rep. Sarah Lightner(R-Springfield Twp.) supported the $809,400 for a wellness program steered toward Department of Corrections workers and the $7.3 million that’s going to hire more corrections officers to prevent mandatory overtime.
Those voting no on SB 0082 included: Reps. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.), Steve Carra(R-Three Rivers), Steve Johnson (R-Wayland Twp.), Matt Maddock(R-Milford) Luke Meerman (R-Polkton Twp.), and John Reilly (R-Oakland).
Asked why he was a no vote, Johnson quipped, “I’m opposed to reckless spending.” The $70 billion budget is, by far, the largest budget, even when adjusted for inflation, in at least the last 25 years. That’s primarily due to the large infusion of federal money.
Those voting against the higher education budget were the aforementioned six conservative House members along with Tommy Brann(R-Wyoming) and Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale),
In the Senate, the HB 4400 passed 34-2 with Sen. Tom Barrett(R-Charlotte) and Jim Runestad(R-White Lake) voting no.
Berman said he sponsored a bill to implement a per-pupil funding model for universities that was adopted in the House.
“Unfortunately, the final budget passed Wednesday moves away from that equitable funding model,” Berman said.