Last month, the House of Representatives approved its first budget plan. I am proud to say that Michigan is once again on track to pass a balanced budget months ahead of schedule. This will mark the third straight year the budget has been passed early, making it the “new normal” for Michigan, which will allow our schools and local units of government time to plan for the future.
The plan cuts wasteful spending, invests in the rainy day fund, and appropriates funds to further pay down Michigan’s long-term debt. This responsible budgeting has been cited several times by the world’s leading financial experts, which has led to an upgrade in the state’s credit rating.
By making state government more efficient, the House was able to dedicate up to $300 million more for roads from existing tax dollars. Part of this $300 million includes the elimination of $25 million for film subsidies. While this does not fill the entire $1.2 billion many say is needed to fix Michigan’s roads, I believe it is essential that the Legislature look internally to find more money before looking to Michigan’s citizens. Every dollar government spends comes from the pocket of a hard-working taxpayer. That means we have a responsibility to spend those funds wisely and focus our efforts on programs that give taxpayers the best return on their investment.
This budget also makes education a top priority. The House plan increases public education funding by more than $50 million and adds $32 million to higher education. Additionally, schools with the lowest foundation allowances would see an increase in per pupil funding, further closing the gap between schools that receive the highest level and those that receive the lowest level under Proposal A. This bill also includes further investment in early childhood development to help our youngest students excel earlier. The House worked diligently to prioritize spending on areas that gives taxpayers the greatest return on their investment. These critical investments will give students of all ages a better chance to succeed, and makes Michigan a better place to raise a family.
Although these bills have passed the House of Representatives, the Michigan Senate has also passed budgets. As in past years there will be a conference committee to work out differences. I look forward to working through that process and passing a budget ahead of schedule.
About Rep. Leonard:
State Rep. Tom Leonard is a first-term lawmaker representing the 93rd House District. The 93rd District includes Clinton County and parts of Gratiot County. Leonard can be reached toll-free at (877) 859-8086, via email at TomLeonard@house.mi.gov or through his website at repleonard.com.