State budget likely to change on Thursday; talks hampered by social issues


A move on the state budget is expected on Thursday, although further progress on a tax relief package is unlikely to occur before lawmakers leave for a summer recess at the end of this week.

That’s according to sources familiar with the matter, who say passage of the state budget is extremely likely when the Legislative Assembly convenes on Thursday.

House and Senate lawmakers have worked out the details of a final state budget with the Whitmer administration since both houses passed their budget recommendations in late May. The state budget for fiscal year 2023 officially begins Oct. 1 and must be signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer by Sept. 30.

There is a July 1 technical deadline for finalizing the state budget, but the legislature has not met this deadline since it was formally introduced into law and there is no enforcement mechanism to this closing date.

RELATED: Michigan budget bills head for negotiations after passing Senate and House

Negotiations have slowly come to an end over the past few days, with sources saying there are only minor tweaks and fixes left to be made. But that doesn’t mean the process was smooth.

Sources told MLive that there have been negotiation issues regarding wording inside the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget outside the House. It includes language that would require programs previously funded by federal family planning — as well as block funding for maternal and child health grants — to be funded from the state’s general fund.

These funds could not be used, and DHHS could not contract, for these programs with a provider who also provided abortion services. The Senate DHHS budget does not include this same language.

This decision, if passed through the DHHS budget, would effectively bar Planned Parenthood and similar providers from receiving Medicaid dollars.

It appears the Senate would not support the House’s boilerplate language on the issue, and neither the world nor the governor would lead to a stalemate on the issue. Some said the language has since been deleted, although others fear it could delay the final passage of this specific budget on Thursday.

Similar questions have been raised about allowing transgender children to participate in sports. The House has language in the school aid budget that prohibits a school district or middle school district from allowing boys to participate in “girls’ athletics.” Similar to Title X boilerplate language, the Senate does not include this language.

Messages left for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of House Appropriations, as well as the Speaker of Senate Appropriations, were not returned in time for publication.

Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he could not comment on the current status of the budget because negotiations are ongoing. He said, however, that he expects Thursday’s Senate session “to be a long day.”

He added that he thinks the state’s $3 billion surplus will be an opportunity to address the issues currently facing families in Michigan.

“They are worried about rising prices for goods, their jobs, the economy of their area, their local roads or the children’s school,” he said. “We have the opportunity to invest in all of these areas.”

RELATED: Michigan forecasts $3 billion budget surplus for 2022 as economy and workforce continue to grow

Asked about bipartisan efforts to enact an effective budget, Hertel said working with his colleagues across the aisle had been “productive so far.”

The House has proposed 16 budget bills totaling $76.3 billion, including $1.4 billion for state police and a $9,000 per-student allocation for Michigan schools.

The Senate has proposed 18 budget bills totaling $74 billion, which include a $9,150 per-student allocation for Michigan schools and a new scholarship program offering high school graduates $3,000 a year for community college. and $6,000 a year to attend college.

Meanwhile, the governor is pushing for a $74.1 billion budget plan, which leverages massive federal funding and excess revenue, sending dollars to schools, infrastructure projects and frontline workers while by guaranteeing tax reductions for the elderly and low-income workers.

Negotiating any tax cuts, however, will more than likely remain on the shelf for now as lawmakers focus on final approval of the budget before their summer vacation period.

The House and Senate are due to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in their respective chambers.

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