Snyder OKs budget plan that shifts new K-12 funds to cleanup
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday signed $1.3 billion budget legislation that is tied to a contentious plan to shift tax revenue for schools to other priorities such as roads, environmental cleanup and recycling.
The new laws were the term-limited Republican's final chance to shape state spending before he leaves office Tuesday. He also vetoed an anti-abortion bill and measures that would have legalized online gambling. He was still considering scores of other bills approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature during a recent lame-duck legislative session.
A look at what Snyder did Friday, possibly his last day of acting on bills:
The state's school fund was due for a $174 million annual boost thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that enabled Michigan to collect taxes on more online purchases. But under the Republican-backed budget deal Snyder signed Friday, the windfall is diverted to roads and other priorities.
The windfall is offset by earmarking less income tax revenue for schools and the general fund. That money will instead go to roads this fiscal year and next fiscal year, and to a $69 million Renew Michigan Fund to clean up toxic sites, manage waste and boost recycling. The new fund will be a permanent move going forward annually.
Snyder approved the plan after lawmakers rejected his proposed hike in landfill-dumping fees. The school aid fund currently has more than $14 billion.
Democrats and schools groups had decried the diversion, which barely cleared the state House in the closing hours of the lame-duck session.
Overall, the $1.3 billion spending laws approved by Snyder include $766 million for health and human services, primarily from federal funds and a new health insurance tax. The laws also allocate $114 million more to fix roads statewide and $20 million more to address the emergence of pollution from man-made chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. And $14 million is allocated to hire 175 additional child protective services workers in the wake of a scathing audit of the state's Children's Protective Services agency.
There is $5 million to implement the voter-approved legalization of recreational marijuana, $43 million to reduce unfunded liabilities in the military and judicial retirement systems, and a $28 million boost for the legislative budget, including $18 million to buy a parking structure to provide additional spaces to lawmakers, staff and the public. The Senate now leases the facility.
The laws also include $25 million more to help some schools upgrade door locks and other security features, and they added $100 million to savings — bringing the "rainy day" fund to $1.1 billion. It had been almost entirely empty when Snyder took office eight years ago.
The governor vetoed bills that would have authorized online gambling in Michigan, including wagers placed on sports. The decision is blow to a gambling industry that hoped to make Michigan only the fifth state to allow online gambling. Snyder wrote a letter to lawmakers saying the legislation merits more careful study, partly because "we simply don't have the data" to currently support the change.
Snyder also cited concerns about the proposal's potential impact on the lottery system, which helps fund schools. And he said he didn't think it was appropriate to sign legislation that would have effectively resulted in more gambling, with a "reasonable chance" of the state losing revenue because internet gambling would have been taxed at a lower rate.
Snyder also vetoed legislation that would have permanently banned Michigan doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing drugs with webcams or other forms of telemedicine. A temporary prohibition was enacted in 2012, but the veto means the prohibition will expire next week.
Snyder said patients should be able to remotely receive safe and proper care, including for a medical abortion. A medical abortion is when drugs are used to end a pregnancy. The bill was backed by majority Republicans in the Legislature and opposed by Democrats.