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Charlevoix County’s state legislators Schmidt and Cole on 2019 budget

The legislature on Tuesday June 12 approved two bills that will fund the State of Michigan for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

“Final passage of the two budget bills marks the eighth year in a row the Legislature has approved the state’s budget ahead of schedule,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “I commend my colleagues for putting our differences aside, negotiating hard and coming up with a product that will benefit Michigan’s hardworking taxpayers.”

Schmidt noted he was especially pleased with the commitment to our state’s education system. School Aid will see a record investment of $14.8 billion and schools will see a foundation allowance increase of between $120 and $240 per pupil.

“The vast majority of schools across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula will receive $240 per student as part of the 2X formula,” Schmidt said. “Which means more money for classrooms and students.”

The “2X” funding formula allows districts at the minimum foundation allowance to receive two times the amount of that increase. Most northern and Upper Peninsula schools are at the base amount, so $240 per student is another step in closing the gap between northern Michigan and other parts of the state.

The 2018-2019 budget also increases funding for our state’s aging roads and bridges.

“We listened to Michiganders who said roads are a priority,” Schmidt said. “Through continued commitment and prioritization, transportation funding has risen to record levels. Our roads and bridges have benefitted from an additional $2.4 billion since 2017.”

Schmidt also applauded an appropriation for a specific road funding project in his district.

The senator announced that with the help of local officials, he was able to secure an additional $300,000 to rebuild a section of Eighth St. in Traverse City.

“This major cross-town route desperately needs repairs,” Schmidt said.

The budget includes money to hire new state police troopers, more corrections workers and more conservation officers. The budget also increases revenue sharing for localities to spend on local operations, further improve sexual assault programs on our state’s campuses and boosts Pure Michigan tourism promotion funding by $1 million.

The budget also invests $58 million in school safety initiatives like OK2SAY that keep our students safe, and increases the state’s rainy day fund to $1 billion from a $1.8 billion structural deficit 8 years ago.

“I’m very glad to see this budget make it to the governor’s desk,” Schmidt said. “I applaud my colleagues for working through several challenges and coming up with a product that will benefit Michigan taxpayers. This budget ensures funding for essential services, pays down debt, invests in our future and makes sure the state lives within its means.”

Michigan’s 105th District State Rep. Triston Cole joined a majority of his legislative colleagues to approve the state budget he says keeps government spending in check while reducing the state’s debt.

Cole, of Mancelona, also said fewer state tax dollars are in this budget than in the previous budget cycle. The limits do not affect spending for education and roads, which are at a record level.

“Smart and strategic financial planning allows us to pay down our debt and puts more money into the state’s main savings account, key steps that will continue to reduce the burden on Michigan’s hard-working taxpayers in the future,” Cole said. “We have been diligent in protecting the funds taxpayers entrust to the state, and in this budget we continue to be conservative and do more with less money.”

Cole said most school districts in the Northern Michigan district he represents will receive all or near of the maximum $240 per student increase in the school budget.

“This will help close the funding gap that has existed for years between smaller, rural schools and those in larger, urban areas,” Cole said.

Other key elements in the budget are:

  • Savings for taxpayers. While investing more in top priorities, overall the state is spending less in the next budget year than during the current year. Budgets for several state departments will decline as state government becomes more efficient and eliminates waste.
  • Road repairs. The new plan accelerates the timeline for desperately needed improvements, spending $4 billion overall on road repairs next budget year – a record-high investment up about $1 billion in state money alone from just a few years ago. Projects must be done on time and on budget, with strengthened warranties to ensure quality.
  • Workforce development. Michigan students will have more opportunities to train for high-demand jobs and higher wages through a $100 million program Gov. Rick Snyder has named the Marshall Plan for Talent. It’s part of the strategy to continue Michigan’s economic comeback, which has seen unemployment drop from 14.6 percent in June 2009 to 4.7 percent this spring.
  • School safety. The plan dedicates roughly $60 million to upgrading school security in buildings across Michigan. The OK2SAY confidential tip reporting program will be expanded.
  • Community safety. The plan funds training of 155 new Michigan State Police troopers – putting our trooper strength at its highest level in 18 years.
  • Health care. Community mental health funding will increase by more than $65 million statewide so residents can live happier, more independent lives. Also supporting the House CARES initiative, about $15 million will be invested in a range of programs including increased access to health care, services to military veterans, problem-solving courts and crime victims’ rights programs. More resources also will be dedicated to battling the opioid abuse crisis.

The fiscal year 2018-2019 budget will now go to Gov. Rick Snyder for consideration.

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