by Jon King, Michigan Advance
The Democratic-led Michigan Senate on Thursday passed its version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget.
The $79.6 billion Senate plan came in just under the $80.1 billion budget passed by the Democratic-led House Thursday, but above Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $79 billion proposal put forward in February.
“As we have for the last five months, we are rising to the challenges facing our state and meeting this moment,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), who was the lead on the Senate’s budget. “With this budget, we are using our state’s solid revenues to build a budget for the people, rejecting the status quo in favor of equity and innovation.”
Among those innovations is $160 million to provide free breakfast and lunch for Michigan public school students, and $250 million for a student loan repayment program for teachers. Both of those were included in the Senate’s State School Aid funding appropriation.
Republicans opposed the budget plan, decrying it as wastefully spending down the state’s $9 billion surplus.
“I know from personal experience that putting together a state budget is difficult,” said Sen. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), a former chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “I also know from personal experience that budgets absolutely can win bipartisan support. But to get there, this budget plan needs major improvements. It should include less overall spending, more transparency for taxpayers, and a commitment to continuing strategies that truly make Michigan a better place to live, work and raise a family.”
However, Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said the budget plan passed Thursday was more than just numbers on a page, but instead represented a commitment to address the needs of Michigan residents.
“These bills detail smart investments informed by thousands of conversations we’ve had with constituents, small businesses, and community leaders,” she said. “This budget is historic for all the right reasons, and I’m proud of the work Democrats have done to prioritize those who have long been ignored or left behind.”
Differences between the House and Senate plans still need to be negotiated between Gov. Whitmer and legislative leaders, with a Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference set on May 19 to determine what the state’s fiscal picture looks like.
State law requires a final budget plan to be passed by July 1 as that’s when most K-12 schools begin their fiscal years. However, there’s no penalty for failing to do so. The state’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
This story was written by Jon King, a contributor to the Michigan Advance, where this story first appeared.
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