Budget chairs: Lift July deadline; Senate wants federal help

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Key Republican lawmakers on Thursday backed legislation that would waive a requirement that the Legislature pass the next state budget in less than three weeks, citing uncertainty over a major shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas said he will push for quick passage of the Democratic-sponsored bill. It would, for one year, lift the new July 1 deadline by which legislators must send Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Shane Hernandez also supported waiting to resolve the budget as long as ongoing discussions continue among the House, Senate and administration.

Stamas noted a three-month delay in the state’s income tax deadline, to July 15, and the scheduling of a rare revenue-estimating meeting for August as Michigan confronts a $6.2 billion hole over this budget year and next.

“We need more time to put forward a constructive budget,” he said.

Also Thursday, the GOP-led Senate embraced calls by Whitmer and other Democrats for Congress to help the state, schools and municipalities address shortfalls. The resolution, approved on a voice vote, notes that while the federal government previously enacted $3.8 billion for the state and four large local governments, “its limited scope and restrictions will be insufficient to weather the effects of the pandemic.”

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