Schmidt supports fiscally responsible Senate budget

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday approved a package of bills that would fund the state of Michigan for the 2019 fiscal year.

“We had a terrific eight years where we were able to get budgets passed well ahead of schedule and I remain hopeful that we’ll be able to do that again this year,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “The major themes in this budget were increasing funding for our schools and putting more money into fixing Michigan’s roads and bridges.”

The Senate plan fully funds the 2015 roads plan one year early and invests an additional $132 million entirely devoted to local roads. With this increase, the Legislature will have increased annual state spending on transportation by over $1.75 billion since fiscal year 2010.

Efforts approved Wednesday would also invest $15.2 billion in education, a total increase of nearly $400 million from last year’s budget. Schools would see a foundation allowance boost of between $135 and $270 per pupil — the largest per-pupil increase in 18 years and $107 million more of a foundation allowance increase than the governor’s plan. Also included is money to support skilled trades training to get workers into high-demand jobs.

“The 2x funding has been a game-changer in my district,” Schmidt said. “This funding formula allows districts at the minimum foundation allowance to receive two times the amount of that increase. This means larger investments for students across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. These increases are just another step in closing the gap between northern Michigan and southeast Michigan.”

The Senate plan also includes $120 million to monitor and analyze water quality throughout the state. The money will be used to fund a number of measures. It would add the $120 million to current efforts to address water quality issues such as PFAS and other contaminants; Lead and Copper Rule implementation; well testing; Drinking Water Revolving Fund loan forgiveness; and more.

Also included is funding for Michigan’s community colleges and universities; $51.2 million in revenue sharing to assist local governments; money to train and graduate 85 new state police troopers; strengthened protections for rural hospitals; and money to be saved for a rainy day.

“We are one step closer to getting a budget to the governor’s desk,” Schmidt said. “I hope we can get a plan signed into law as soon as possible. The sooner we are able to do that, the sooner school districts and local governments will be able to figure out their own budgets. We cannot keep them waiting in limbo while we go back and forth in Lansing.”

The budget bills now head to the House for consideration.