State Budget Battle Subsides

Governor Granholm signs remaining bills for a final budget eliminating funding for various programs

Governor Jennifer Granholm signed the six remaining budget bills on Oct. 29, finalizing the $44.5 billion budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Her signature concludes several weeks of negotiations and partisan bickering over finalizing the budget. Since the start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, the state had been operating under a temporary budget that would have expired on Oct. 31.

Granholm denounced the proposed budget cuts from the Senate Republicans under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester). In the final budget, Granholm vetoed over 70 items, equivalent to roughly $128 million in state spending.

One of Granholm’s biggest budgetary concerns has been the elimination of the Michigan Promise Scholarship program and she has been fighting the Republican led Senate over the cuts to the program.

The program was eliminated from the final budget even after she had been hoping to find alternative funding for the $120 million scholarship program which provided state assistance to over 96,000 students.

However, the $31.7 million for the needs-based scholarship program for 35,000 private college students survived the Governor’s vetoes.

Other highlights from the final budget include calls for spending $44 billion, including $1.4 billion in federal stimulus spending, and cuts of at least $292 per pupil in public schools, cuts to Medicaid and the elimination of the Michigan State Fair.

An 8 percent cut to Medicaid payments to doctors resulted after the Senate rejected a 3 percent tax increase on gross doctor’s receipts.

Senate Republicans have been criticized heavily by Democrats for not compromising on new proposed tax revenues.

The veto of the $7.1 million appropriation approved by lawmakers in attempts to save the 160 year old fair puts to end hope of saving the fair in its traditional form. Supporters are looking into alternative means of funding.