GOVERNOR, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS LOOKING TO MEET ON BUDGET
Governor Jennifer Granholm is asking for leaders in the House and
Senate to sit down with her on Thursday to negotiate fixes to the
state's remaining fiscal shortfall after the House late Tuesday approved
its own budget-cutting plan.
Ms. Granholm, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and
House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) were expected to meet on and
off throughout the day, but where they will meet was not disclosed.
A spokesperson for Mr. Bishop said he was confident such a meeting
would take place but that the leader wanted time to go over the
House-passed plan (SB 220 and SB 221) with his caucus. Matt Marsden
said Senate Republicans were reviewing the proposal Wednesday afternoon.
A spokesperson for Mr. Dillon also confirmed the Democratic leader
would be in talks with Mr. Bishop and Ms. Granholm on Thursday, but no
other details were available.
So far, all three sides have only settled on $344 million in budget
cuts to the 2006-2007 fiscal year (Executive Order 2007-3), which leaves
$686 million in shortfalls that have to be dealt with.
The House plan would cut $247 million in general fund and $85 million
in school aid spending and implemented approximately $65 million in new
revenues. The plan takes away the scheduled appropriation increase for
the state's 15 public universities and delays their remaining August
payment to October. Community colleges would also have their payments
delayed but there would be no $34 per-pupil cut to K-12 as the Senate
proposed. And the House plan does not cut revenue sharing or other
health and human services programs the Senate had targeted for cuts.
The Senate plan cut $278 million in general fund spending, which
included increased appropriations for human services and corrections due
to increased caseload and population pressures. In the School Aid
Fund, the Senate cut $377.4 million.
In response to the House budget cutting measures, Mr. Bishop said it,
"is a positive step forward and breaks a major logjam in the process of
resolving the budget deficit. The initial review of the House proposal
suggests we have moved closer to an agreement on the 2007 budget
shortfall and I am encouraged by the House finally presenting
legislation to move this process forward."
On Wednesday, House Appropriations Chair Rep. George Cushingberry Jr.
(D-Detroit) said the panel could meet as early as Thursday to work on
legislation implementing the EO cuts. The committee did not vote on
the FY 2007-2008 higher education budgets.
UNIVERSITIES QUESTION MESSAGE OF CUTS
The day following the House's action eliminating all of the budget
increases for universities in the current fiscal year, the universities
questioned whether House Democrats are reading the same script as
Governor Jennifer Granholm. "Governor Granholm has repeatedly said the
promise of higher education must be for all children. I'm confused
whether House Democrats understand that message," said Mike Boulus,
director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.
The provision takes $43.2 million from universities dropping them back
to 2005-06 funding levels. The budget plan also delays the remaining
payment made to universities in August, which saves the state $66.5
"That's almost 50 percent of the general fund cuts enacted last night,"
Mr. Boulus said, adding that while community colleges would also receive
a delayed payment in August, they wouldn't be subject to further general
"We've got an awful lot of unresolved issues and they just added to
that last night," he said, noting that universities are currently trying
to put together their budgets for the 2007-08 school year and determine
what if any tuition increases will be needed.