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Budget plan would give Detroit $1.7M boost

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — The city of Detroit would get a $1.7 million boost in state revenue sharing payments in the 2016 fiscal year under a budget plan a Senate committee approved Thursday.

The Senate Appropriations General Government subcommittee’s spending plan for municipalities differs with a House committee’s plan to slash Detroit’s revenue sharing by $4.1 million — just over three months after the city emerged from bankruptcy — and redistribute the money to 101 other communities.

State Sen. Jim Stamas, chairman of the subcommittee, proposed a budget that won bipartisan approval by largely keeping intact the existing distribution of state funds to counties, cities, townships and villages.

“Thank you for not cutting Detroit and thank you for not cutting Wayne County,” Sen. Coleman Young II, D-Detroit, told Stamas. “I appreciate that.”

State Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, said he was unhappy that rural communities in northern Michigan continue to be shut out of the $243 million statutory revenue-sharing fund.

“I still have a concern on revenue sharing,” Booher said. “It still leaves me with 157 townships basically with zero. In all fairness, we all pay in. We have fire, police, a lot of the same issues that others have.”

Stamas, R-Midland, said he wants to further study revenue sharing during the rest of the year before making any substantial changes to the program.

After the hearing, Stamas was diplomatic about the major differences between his plan, Gov. Rick Snyder’s original budget proposal and cuts House Republicans want to make to Detroit’s revenue sharing.

“I think the House plan is one part of three different parts of the budget process, and it certainly provides an opportunity to have discussion and good policy decisions in the future,” he said.

Under the Senate committee’s plan, Detroit’s total revenue sharing payments from the state would increase from $195.7 million this fiscal year to $197.4 million. The House committee proposed reducing Detroit’s payment to $191.6 million.

Stamas’ general government budget plan, which still needs approval of the Senate Appropriations Committee and full Senate, also differs vastly with the House plan over subsidies for the film industry.

The Senate subcommittee adopted Snyder’s proposed $50 million next year for incentives to lure television and film productions to Michigan. The House Appropriations General Government subcommittee eliminated the film incentives on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled House voted to end the film incentives program on Oct. 1. The GOP-run Senate and Republican governor want to keep the program in place.

Stamas, who moved up to the Senate this year after six years in the House, said the Legislature committed last year to phasing out taxpayer subsidies of the film industry through September 2021.

“We need to continue to live up to those commitments,” Stamas told reporters after the committee meeting.

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