Skubick: House passes budget; Democrats go on the attack

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – State lawmakers are making steady progress toward meeting a June 1 deadline for finalizing the state budget.

But Democrats and some special interest groups are not happy with what the Republican legislature is doing with your tax dollars.

State Rep. Fred Durhall III is succinct in his summary. “If I had to characterize it, I’d say it’s pretty terrible.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has a different view. “I’m very pleased to see the House move its budget last night.”

The House passed a state budget last night with very little Democratic support.

The Democrats complain there is not enough for education; that a 1.3 percent increase or $100 per pupil hike does not keep pace with inflation.

But this GOP budget committee member defends the spending including $129 for at risk students.

Rep. Chris Afendoulis explains “we’ve approved the highest spending increase for education.”

But is it enough? His answer is direct. “It’s always the case. When is it ever enough?”

The education lobby objects to redirecting money from the K-12 budget for higher education, which got a 1.9 percent boost.

The budget also adds 100 state troopers and the Republican House Speaker has set aside over $280 million for a possible tax cut or to buy the costs in the teachers retirement system.

The Snyder administration did not recommend that set-aside but is not picking a fight with Republicans over that.

“I have a great deal of respect for the House moving a budget that sets aside resources for priorites,” said Lt. Gov. Calley. “I don’t think it’s clear at this point which priorities have been set aside for.”

The ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee argues the $280 million should be put into badly needed state services that were cut by the Republicans.

“Cut some really good programs: Meals on Wheels, clothing allowance for children in the welfare system,” says Rep. Durhall. “It’s a terrible budget.”

The Senate is working on its budgets and then both sides will resolve their differences.

Either way Democrats are not expected to be overjoyed with what the Republicans do.

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