State Rep. Scott VanSingel this week helped lead the Michigan House’s approval of a budget plan investing in schools, road repairs and environmental protection.
The plan also protects taxpayers by relying on existing state resources – not tax increases – to boosting funding in high priority programs.
“The people of Lake, Oceana and Newaygo counties want better roads and schools, but they shouldn’t have to dig deeper into their wallets to get them,” said VanSingel, of Grant. “The state should do a better job with the resources it already receives, and that’s exactly what this budget plan does.”
VanSingel – a member of the House Appropriations Committee – helped develop the plan, which next advances to the Senate for consideration. Key elements of the plan include:
- Roads. The plan ensures every single penny spent on taxes at the gas pump goes to improve our roads – including the 6 percent sales tax motorists already pay. This change could add more than $800 million more per year to road repairs – without raising taxes – once fully phased in over two years. This change would be accomplished without sacrificing money for schools, local government revenue sharing or other essential public services.
- Schools. The plan raises the state’s minimum per-pupil foundation allowance by $180 per student, which includes the vast majority of school districts in Lake, Oceana and Newaygo counties. This comes on top of the largest annual per-student increase of the past 15 years – which schools are receiving in the current budget year – while continuing to close the gap between the state’s lowest- and highest-funded districts. Early literacy and career training are special focuses as the overall school aid fund would surpass $15 billion. “I am fighting to protect and improve school funding, even at a time we are working hard to find savings and efficiencies throughout state government,” VanSingel said. “This budget plan will help give students the skills they need to succeed.”
- Respecting taxpayers through government efficiencies. Many state departments are being asked to find a savings of 3 percent in their administrative budgets. The House also has identified several state programs that do not spend as much money as taxpayers have been providing, so their budgets will be adjusted accordingly. The plan reins in spending on information technology within state department projects, which has been a problem area. The House plan also continues increased debt payments, including in employee retirement systems, to prevent liabilities from rising and costing taxpayers more in the future.
“The House budget plan costs taxpayers about $1.3 billion less than the plan recommended by the governor,” VanSingel said. “We are able to accomplish essentially the same goals, but without the 45-cent per gallon gas tax increase the governor has proposed.”