By Kathleen Gray
The House and Senate Appropriations committees gave quick approval Thursday to $106 million in cuts proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder to help balance the current budget.
The votes, mostly along party lines in both the House and Senate, came a day after Snyder presented his budget message to the Legislature and signed the executive order making the cuts.
Included in the cuts are: $23.3 million to the State Police, mostly due to money allocated for disaster response that hasn't been used and a reduction in the number of new troopers graduating from 100 to 60; $17.8 million in cuts to the Corrections Department through a change from state-owned to leased tethers, cuts in prisoner education programs and reductions in spending at 10 prisons around the state; $33 million in cuts to the departments of Community Health and Human Services.
The cuts are needed because companies, including several automakers, were beginning to claim tax credits that were awarded under previous administrations as their businesses grew and they started to hire more people. The budget hole this year was $325 million, and it's anticipated to grow to $532 million for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
In addition to the executive order, a supplemental budget bill will come before the Legislature in the coming weeks that will cut another $93 million from the budget, including $12 million from the incentives program for the film industry.
The executive order only needed the approval of the two appropriations committees. The supplemental budget will need approval from the full House and Senate.
Democrats mostly voted against the executive order, in part, because Snyder also proposed adding $95 million to the state's rainy day fund in the budget year that begins on Oct. 1.
"It doesn't make sense to me to put $95 million in the rainy day fund when you can help people with that money," said state Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Southfield.
But state Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, said the rainy day investment shows good, long-term planning by the Snyder administration.
"This situation is a hiccup; it's not a storm," he said. "We shouldn't use the rainy day fund when it's not really raining."
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