GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan’s $75.5 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year was signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Wednesday.
“This fiscally responsible budget brings our rainy day fund to an all-time high of $1.6 billion, it pays down billions in debt and secures the retirements of state troopers, among other public servants. and best of all, we didn’t raise taxes by a time to get it done and it got done on time,” Whitmer said at a budget signing ceremony in Detroit. “(The budget) invests in people, it unleashes Michigan’s potential and it funds key projects.”
The Legislature passed the FY23 budget by July 1 for the first time since a statute setting the deadline was implemented following the messy 2019 budget process.
“It is a budget that we can all be proud of,” Whitmer said.
The budget is the state’s largest ever. While it’s normal for the budget to grow from year to year, for perspective, the House Fiscal Agency says the budget for 2018-19, the last year before Whitmer became governor, was about $55.5 billion. The large dollar sign this time around was made possible by an increase in revenue and a lot of federal money flowing into the state.
“There are a couple of things that we, Republicans, really pushed in this budget. Number one was to start paying down debt,” state Rep. Matt Hall, R-Marshall, the House tax policy chair, told News 8. “There’s, I think, $2.5 billion of debt reduction in this budget, so that’s paying off pensions, making sure that local government pensions systems and state pensions systems are sustainable over time.”
Among other things, the spending plan sends $6 billion to roads and infrastructure, directs funds to public safety and to build trust in law enforcement, improves dental care access for those on Medicaid, pays to replace lead water lines and supports scholarships for higher education and retraining.
It also includes money for some West Michigan projects:
- $10 million for a new children’s rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids.
- $6.5 million to help cover transition costs for the Michigan Veteran Homes at Grand Rapids, which recently upgraded its facilities.
- $38 million for a new pediatric mental health facility.
- $30 million for a new amphitheater in Grand Rapids.
- Pipeline repairs in Holland Township.
- Kalamazoo river restoration and upgrades to Binder Park Zoo in the Battle Creek area.
- Redeveloping the Third Street Wharf and channel lighthouse in Muskegon.
- Water infrastructure improvements in Sparta and Lawton.
In the Detroit area, money is going to the nearly 28-mile Joe Louis Greenway, the Detroit Center for Innovation research, education and entrepreneurship center, a cancer institute at Wayne State University, facility improvements at the Wayne Port Authority and an initiative to bring skilled professionals to the region, plus a number of other projects.
Whitmer was expected to veto some line items from the budget: $2 million for an adoptive parent tax credit and about $1.5 million in grants for nonprofit pregnancy resource centers. Her office has said she does not believe those programs give women full information about their options, including abortion.
The governor signed the state education budget, which includes record per-pupil funding, last week.
The state still has billions in one-time funds to dole out.
“We also left about $6 billion on the balance sheets for a potential either tax cut or to deal with potential economic downturns or a combination of both,” Hall said. “It’s not going to be like this forever.”
Whitmer, a Democrat, and the Republican-led Legislature are still working out what relief for taxpayers will look like and in the middle of an election year, finding bipartisan agreement may be difficult. Lawmakers’ ideas have included a gas tax holiday or rolling back the state income tax. Whitmer suggested a one-time direct payment based on income.
The state’s new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
*Correction: A previous of this article misstated the years in reference to a previous budget. We regret the error, which has been fixed.