Michigan Legislative Update
Week of February 9, 2017
By Judy Augenstein
This week Governor Rick Snyder presented his 2017-18 budget recommendations to the legislature. Snyder recommended small increases in spending in a variety of programs, but cautioned against calls from Republicans to cut the income tax. Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Budget Director Al Pscholka strongly pushed back on an income tax rollback and stated the state already had implemented considerable tax and fee relief, much of which will come on line in the coming years.
Highlights of the budget include:
A 3/4% increase for higher education.
A $20 million deposit into the infrastructure fund.
A $260 million deposit into the Budget Stabilization Fund.
With lease payments kicking in for the new Senate office building and salary increases for legislative workers, the Legislature would see a $13 million increase in the budget recommendation from Snyder. The Legislature would receive $179.3 million, an 8.3 increase, $3 million of that is one time funding for an IT systems design project.
The executive recommendation provides a $130 million increase in the Michigan Transportation Fund and an $84.3 million increase for state roads. Those funds are from the first full fiscal year of increases in fuel taxes and registration fees.
Snyder wants $48.8 million to deal with the lead in Flint's public water supply, $20 million for various infrastructure repairs and an extra $325 million into the K-12 budget, as part of a $12.3 billion School Aid Fund.
Now that the Governor's recommendations are released, budget bills will be introduced and budget committees will begin the tedious job of slicing up state dollars to fit budget proposals.
This week I hosted a lunch meeting with Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville, Dem V-Chair House Transportation Committee and staff to outline the specifics of the multiple use permit we are crafting with sponsor Rep. Triston Cole, R- Chair, House Transportation Committee. Dianda and Chirkun pledged support to the effort and agreed to sign on as co-sponsors, which makes it a bi-partisan proposal. I will work with sponsor Rep. Cole to "line up" supporters once the bill language is finalized and introduced.
A meeting was held with three MDOT staffers, Paul Opsommer, Central Transport, Lance Binoniema, Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA), Paul Opsommer, Central Transport to review and fine tune our effort to legislate a multiple use permit. Bill sponsor Rep. Triston Cole was very clear and direct with MDOT in his request for cooperation. MDOT indicated it would cost approximately $100,000 to update software and about one year to facilitate a new permit process. Software has been a big roadblock for MDOT in our former meetings with them. MDOT questioned cargo content, but Rep. Cole made it perfectly clear that it does not matter what the cargo is as long as the cab and the trailer meet state law. Cole is also requesting a process for electronic permits, but continue to provide a paper permit if requested. It is clear that MDOT understands that they cannot bluff or confuse former truck driver Rep. Cole regarding the transporting of goods or the permitting process for truckers. Hopefully, we will have draft #3 with our requested language changes by Friday. There are 17 bill drafters to accommodate 148 legislators, their bill requests and bill changes.
This week, I continued to meet with "newbie" legislators in an effort to explain our legislative issues and goals. I met with Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City and staff to outline forestry issues which will be addressed by the House Natural Resources Committee which Rendon is a member. This week I participated in a breakfast campaign event for Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering. A meeting was held with Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine and her staff.
Next week, I will be sponsoring a lunch meeting with Rep. Kurt VanderWall, R-Ludington and staff to introduce forestry issues as he is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee. On Wednesday, I will be hosting a lunch meeting with Rep. Larry Inman, R-Williamburg and staff in an effort to "catch up" on issues, this is Inman's second term. The following week I will be hosting Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain and staff as he is the new VC of the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Gary Howell, R-Lapeer is the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Michelle Hoitenga, R-Manton, Rep. Roger Hauck, R-Union Township, Rep. Scott VanSingel, R-Grant are on my list for meet and greets in an effort to introduce our issues to the northern/UP legislators.
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