- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan House passed a $36.5 billion omnibus budget bill Tuesday as the Senate approved parts of its spending plan that would increase higher education funding by 6.8 percent.

The House voted 92-17 on one of its two budget bills, which allocates funding for everything but education in fiscal year 2015. It will consider a separate $15.6 billion bill covering K-12 schools, community college and higher education later this week.

The House omnibus bill increases money given to counties from sales taxes by $65.4 million to $211 million, in line with Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget. It also boosts by 3.8 percent to $765 million the revenue that the state Constitution requires be given to cities, townships and villages, as in Snyder’s budget.

The Senate passed a $1.5 billion higher education budget 23-15, up from $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2014. It includes a $77 million increase for university operations, as well as smaller increases to help pay Medicaid-eligible students’ tuition and support agricultural research at Michigan State University. Spending on K-12 schools is included in a separate measure.

The Republican-led House and Senate are both expected to pass their versions of the budget by week’s end. Differences will be hammered out in House-Senate conference committees after lawmakers and Snyder’s administration meet in mid-May to get a consensus update on revenue projections.

Legislative leaders would like to send a spending plan of more than $50 billion to the Republican governor by late May or early June. Snyder proposed his $52.1 billion budget in February. The next budget year starts Oct. 1.

A $3.7 billion transportation budget bill passed the Senate 27-11, down from $3.8 billion in 2014. It includes one-time money for highway and bridge construction to match federal funds.

The Senate also approved 32-5 a $17.49 billion community health budget, up almost $958 million from 2014. An increase of about $1.08 billion covers Medicaid expansion in the state and projects savings of $232.1 million on related programs for the year.

Some Senate Democrats criticized the higher education budget for using $215.4 million from the School Aid Fund, saying the fund should be reserved for K-12. They also opposed funding a $372 million community college budget in part with money from the School Aid Fund. That budget passed 25-13.

“I understand the role and the value of our community colleges in educating our young people and preparing them for the job market, but taking from Peter to pay Paul is no way to accomplish this,” Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland, said. “We should be funding them from the General Fund dollars, not School Aid Fund money.” Anderson is the vice chairman of the appropriations committee.

Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, who chairs the community college appropriations subcommittee, said such use of the fund is legal and there isn’t money that could replace it in the upcoming budget year.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to correct this issue that we all have concerns about,” Booher said.


AP reporter David Eggert contributed to this report.



House omnibus: https://1.usa.gov/1kJYJpp

Senate higher education: https://1.usa.gov/RlH66A

Senate transportation: https://1.usa.gov/1ijYlzi


Follow Emma Fidel on Twitter at https://twitter.com/emmafidel .

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