Michigan budget deal adds $35M for infrastructure

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican legislative leaders have agreed to deposit $35 million into a statewide infrastructure fund and $150 million into a “rainy day” savings fund as part of a final budget deal for fiscal year 2018.

The Legislature had cut proposed deposits from Snyder’s recommended budget in an attempt to free up $495 million for a teacher pension reform plan, which has since been revised and now is expected to cost significantly less.

The budget deal, which leaders hope to send to the governor’s desk next week, is expected to include $55 million to cover two-year upfront costs for teacher pension reforms along with $200 million to pay down debt accrued in the state’s legacy pension system.

Additional money will “go back into budget priorities for the administration,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell.

Snyder’s original $56.3 billion budget proposal had recommended a $266.5 million deposit into the rainy day budget stabilization fund and $20 million for the Michigan Infrastructure Fund, which legislators had cut despite fears of another sinkhole or water crisis like those that have occurred in Fraser and Flint, respectively.

Democrats opposed to the pension reform plan had proposed using any identified budget savings for road and bridge repairs.

While the overall spending plan is largely set, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, acknowledged an ongoing debate with the Snyder administration over “boilerplate” budget language, including a controversial pilot program proposal to integrate behavioral and physical health systems.

Snyder and leaders also still are discussing programs and funding levels in the Department of Corrections budget.

“We’re pretty close,” Meekhof said.

Meekhof and House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, froze Snyder out of budget talks last month but invited him back to the table after negotiating the pension reform plan.