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Senate Budgets Spending $726M Less Than Gov’s Rec.

May 2, 2023

Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog e-newsletter

The Senate is on pace to spend at least $726 million less than the governor recommended in her Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 spending plan, based on the seven department budgets that moved out of Senate Appropriations Wednesday and the three big budgets that have moved out of subcommittee.

With revenues not coming in as expected and growing fears of a recession looming, the Senate is dialing back such recommendations as the governor’s special pot of money for local law enforcement.

More than $286 million in state spending that the governor recommended in her executive budget proposal has already been cut out by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which moved seven department budget proposals for the Fiscal Year of 2024 Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, the Senate’s $35.48 billion health and human services budget is $227.3 million less than what Whitmer requested. The Senate’s PreK-12 budget is worth $131.2 million less than what the governor asked for in education expenditures. The General Government budget is $82 million less.

Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved budget recommendations for Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD, SB 187), Department of Natural Resources (DNR, SB 188), Department of Corrections (MDOC, SB 191), Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA, SB 195), Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS, SB 196), Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE, SB 199) and the state’s judicial branch (SB 192).

Each budget recommendation bill was approved on a consistent party-line vote of 13-6, as Republican legislators continue to express concerns about overspending.

“We saw probably around half of our budget voted out today. Obviously, our House counterparts are also doing the same thing, getting out the subcommittee recommendations . . . we’re still on track in terms of making sure that our budget is done (in) late May – early June,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing).

Ultimately, the Senate panel authorized more than $4.89 billion in gross appropriations for FY ’24 through the seven budget proposals. The Senate’s budget suggestion for DIFS was worth the same amount as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive request of $74,147,900.

Meanwhile, the single budget approved Wednesday that had a larger price-tag than what Whitmer recommended was the MDOC appropriation request. The governor wanted $2.064 billion in overall spending for the MDOC, and the Senate’s request added $700,000 more for corrections spending.

SB 191 was also the only bill to receive an amendment Wednesday. Anthony led a $700 million shift in leftover COVID-19 recovery funds from the federal government into the MDOC’s payroll. When Sen. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) asked about the amendment during Wednesday’s meeting, the Senate Fiscal Agency explained it would leave about $230 million of those federal dollars remaining.

Anthony said her amendment was particularly aiming to “just really address some of the pressing needs that we have, without needing to worry about the potential clawbacks at the federal level.”

“. . . So we’re seeing some of those threats with our U.S. representatives, so it’s a way for us to quickly address some of those (American Rescue Plan) dollars,” she said.

Anthony’s office clarified it may take multiple meetings for the Senate Appropriations Committee to move out the remainder of the chamber’s budget recommendations next week. Two of the state’s biggest spending areas, health and human services and education, which equated to 43.3% and 29.3% of the state’s FY ’23 budget respectively, will have their recommendations voted on in the form of SB 190 and SB 173.

“I committed early on . . . that we wanted to empower our subcommittee chairs. They’ve been meeting with stakeholders, meeting with the departments, vetting some of these proposals . . . some do align with the governor’s allocations, others don’t,” Anthony said. “But it’s really the first step in all of our negotiations.”

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