Michigan Budget Revealed By Gov. Rick Snyder
UPDATE: 3:15 p.m -- Gov. Rick Snyder stressed accountability and efficiency in his Thursday explanation of the fiscal year 2013 budget, from enforcing more benchmarks to cutting bureaucracy.
Key for accountability will be the new statewide MI Dashboard initiative, which will let citizens track government progress.
Jobs were at the top of Snyder's agenda. He spoke about job "creation" and "connection," and made reference to 76,000 open positions in the Michigan Talent Bank several times during Thursday's budget presentation.
The governor also tied job creation to his plans to increase public safety spending, noting high jobless rates would do little to deter crime.
Snyder held up crime rates Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw to show the need for an investment in public safety. He revealed an additional $47 million will go to state police from the general fund, but complete details of new public safety spending won't be released until next month.
The governor's commitment comes on the heels of state Attorney General Bill Schuette's call to improve public safety by adding 1,000 more police officers statewide.
Education and school funding were also priorities in the governor's budget address, with the School Aid Fund accounting for 31 percent of the total budget. Snyder plans to move an additional $200 million from the General Fund to the School Aid Fund this year, with a 3 percent bump for higher education and 1 percent increase for K-12 over fiscal year 2012.
That increase in K-12 funding is tied to special programs and incentives, and will not raise the state's per-pupil allocation, which Snyder cut by $430 last year. After those extensive cuts, some education advocates feel this year's budget doesn't do enough.
"Putting a fraction of that $1 billion back into schools doesn't fix the problems that such a massive cut caused cut last year," said Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook in a statement.
K-12 schools will be rewarded for adopting best practices, like creating dashboards and agreeing to charter schools and offer and dual enrollment.
And the budget sets aside $70 million in performance-based awards for schools that show the most growth. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said that means an opportunity for struggling schools to benefit, since they could potentially make the most progress. Critics say the plan will withhold resources to already under-performing schools who need them the most.
"The governor's proposal for performance-based funding will target poor communities by requiring that they compete with districts that are wealthier," said state Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), who challenged the education spending plan on the state House floor.
Snyder's budget also allocates $1.4 billion for higher education. Colleges and universities will be rewarded for keeping tuition increases down and will be asked to prove success with their graduation rates.
Penalizing high college costs is a measure also touted by President Barack Obama in a recent speech on college affordability at the University of Michigan.
"If you can't stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down," the president said. "We should push colleges to do better. We should hold them accountable if they don't."
Snyder's presentation continually returned to administrative cuts and efficiency. Both local governments and school districts can receive state grants as rewards for consolidating services.
Other elements of the new budget include increased spending for transportation and roads, an additional $3.6 million for arts and culture, and increasing the rate paid to foster parents.
The full budget is available on the state's website.
The governor presented his budget in Lansing at 11 a.m. Thursday. Snyder will also hold an online town hall meeting to discuss the budget on his Facebook page at 6:30 p.m.
When Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder reveals his proposed 2013 state budget Thursday, education advocates might be in for some good news.
Snyder is expected to include a 3 percent increase in education spending, with more than two-thirds of the extra funding going to support higher education, according to AnnArbor.com.
Last year, Snyder made controversial cuts to spending for both K-12 and higher education, while also offering a large business tax break. Higher education saw 15 percent cuts, and K-12 per-pupil funding dropped $430, a move critics called "balancing the budget on the backs of children."
Now, with a budget surplus of more than $400 million, Snyder has some room for spending. That's a different climate from the $1.5 billion deficit he faced last year, as the governor pointed out in a video preview of the budget.
In the YouTube preview, Snyder didn't reveal much but suggested a surplus shouldn't provoke wild spending.
"It's about prioritizing ... and having some way to measure results and success," he said.
When news of a budget surplus was announced, Democrats and others called for Snyder to use funds for education, but GOP legislators have cautioned against excess spending.
There will be some rewards of a budget surplus; 37,000 unionized state employees will not have to take four projected furlough days this year, Snyder said Wednesday.