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Snyder Vetoes $6.37 Million Before Signing Budget Bills

July 18, 2017

Courtesy MIRS News

An epidemic of opioid addiction in Michigan has been much on the minds of state lawmakers recently, so it was surprising when an $850,000 “Genomic Opioid Abuse Demonstration Program” was among the line items vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder as he signed the state’s $56.5 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2018 Friday.

In all, 15 line items worth just under $5 million were cut from HB 4323, the general omnibus appropriations bill, and four line items worth $1.37 million were trimmed from HB 4313, the education omnibus bill. The remainder of the budget was signed by Snyder at the Kent Intermediate School District Career Tech Center Friday morning. 

Both the House and Senate have been working on packages to address opioid addiction and there are a number of new programs in the budget to address the epidemic. The program that hit the cutting room floor would have created a “genomic based demonstration program to predict opioid response and abuse.” The program would have sought to “identify relevant biomarkers that predict risk of opioid abuse and overdose” to create a screening panel developed by a Michigan-based genomics lab. 

The reason for the veto, according to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesperson Jennifer Eisner, was that the allocation could have jeopardized other federal money. Eisner explained the allocation would have dipped into a $16 million federal grant the state received in late April known as Opioid State Targeted Response. Since the genomics program wasn’t included in the original grant application, using the money could have put the rest of the grant at risk, she said. 

Also vetoed was a $150,000 line item for education and training for “proper management of draft beer delivery systems,” focusing on new entities that “fill growlers for off-premises consumption.” 

Other items nixed included $100,000 for the Albion Equestrian Center; $500,000 for a drill core storage facility in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; $280,000 for the Muskegon Covenant Academy; $75,000 for the Pathways to Potential program at Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency; $60,000 to improve the attendance and retention of students at the Early Neighborhood Learning Collaborative; $1 million to purchase pediatric traumatic brain injury treatment software and related software services; $182,000 for an emergency medical services grant in the Upper Peninsula; and $300,000 for primary care and dental health services for the indigent in Detroit and Wayne County. 

Also on the chopping block were $500,000 for playscape reconstruction in the Bay City State Recreation Area; $500,000 for pavilion reconstruction at Onaway State Park; $100,000 for snowmobile law enforcement grants; $226,200 for snowmobile local grants; and $176,200 for off-road vehicle trail improvement grants. 

From the education budget, Snyder vetoed $60,000 for civics education in 2017; $60,000 for civics education in 2018; $1 million for an online math program and $250,000 for “assessment of digital literacy and the preparation of digital literacy skills.” 

“While some items may serve valid public policy goals, the items vetoed are largely duplicative of or interfere with current state programs or are not clearly enough defined,” Snyder explained in his signing letter Friday. 

House Appropriations Vice Chair Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker) said he wasn’t surprised that out of a $56.5 billion budget the Governor could find $5 million or $6 million worth of programs to veto. He said he had only taken a quick review of the items crossed out, but he believed most were programs advocated by individual lawmakers and not significant cuts. Snyder concentrated his remarks on what was in the budget during the signing. 

“With significant investments in healthcare, education, public safety, infrastructure, natural resources and our economy, this budget maintains our long-standing commitment to fiscal responsibility while making critical investments that will continue moving Michigan forward,” he said. “This budget shows that Michigan is serious about attracting business opportunities and training a 21st-century workforce that is prepared for the jobs of our future. Michigan has come a long way since we first started work on reinventing our state, but there is still much to be done and this budget keeps us on the right path for a strong future.” 

Highlights of the budget include: 

– $115.5 million for business attraction and community revitalization efforts. 

– $46.4 million to provide Michigan workers with the skills they need for in-demand jobs. 

– $4.7 million to support the attraction of new, mid-sized food and agriculture processing. 

– An increased foundation allowance of $60-$120 per pupil. 

– $120 million for at-risk youth focused on improving academic achievement for children in difficult financial situations. 

– $2.8 million for STEM grants and programs moved to regional STEM centers. 

– Increased college student financial aid resources of $16.3 million. 

– A Michigan State Police trooper recruit school aimed at producing 150 new troopers. 

– $5 million to help build 2,000 miles of hiking and biking trails. 

– $4.1 billion, primarily federal dollars, in the Healthy Michigan Program providing expanded Medicaid coverage. 

– An additional 72 full-time employees within the state’s psychiatric hospitals totaling $4.9 million from the general fund. 

– $150 million deposit into the Budget Stabilization Fund, bringing the rainy day fund balance to $886 million in fiscal year 2018.

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