- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Schoolchildren, college students and others will be impacted when the next state budget starts in about three months.

The Republican-written spending plan, which Gov. Rick Snyder plans to finish signing as early as Monday, affects many corners of Michigan life - from how much it costs to attend a state university and whether low-income 4-year-olds can go to preschool to increased funding for the arts and how many state troopers patrol the highways.

A look at the $53.2 billion budget:

EDUCATION


If you:

- attend one of the state’s 15 public universities, your tuition and fees are unlikely to rise more than 3.2 percent or else the school will lose funding.

- go to a private college, you might get extra help with tuition if you can demonstrate the need for financial assistance. Funding for the Michigan Tuition Grant program will increase 5.9 percent.

- have a 4-year-old, your child might be eligible for publicly funded preschool under an effort to end a waiting list for disadvantaged kids.

- are in 1st through 12th grade, you may be going to school longer. K-12 districts are required to have at least 175 days of instruction instead of 170, with exceptions for snow days. Many districts already provide 180 days of instruction.

- have a child in a traditional public or charter school, per-pupil funding will increase by between $50 and $175. Exactly how much varies, depending on whether you live in a higher-funded or lower-funded district. Some districts aren’t happy, saying their $50 boost is an effective cut because it won’t fully offset higher employee retirement costs. Supporters say the gap between wealthier and poorer districts will shrink.

- are in grades 3-8, you’ll take revised Michigan Educational Assessment Program, or MEAP, tests in math and reading that are supposed to align with national Common Core standards designed to improve problem-solving skills. Lawmakers rejected a plan to switch to Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced tests being developed by Michigan and other states - at least for now - until the state reviews bids from competitor testing companies.

TRANSPORTATION

If you:

- drive, you probably won’t see significantly more construction. The budget includes an extra $144 million for state and local bridge projects. But a push to more than double state gasoline and diesel taxes and change vehicle registration fees to boost spending by $1.2 to $1.8 billion a year was defeated before legislators broke for the summer. They could try again after the November election.

- take the train, you may have more options in the future. The state must study the feasibility of a passenger rail service between Detroit and Holland, with stops in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Story Continues →