Snyder signs $1.3B supplemental budget bill, axes one pet project in Wayne

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder added his signature Friday to a massive supplemental budget bill, using his veto power on just one item from the nearly $1.3 billion spending plan.

The spending bill included millions of dollars for the cleanup of contaminated sites, an extra infusion of cash for roads, money for new Great Lakes-based construction in northern Michigan, a deposit in the state’s rainy-day fund, and additional funding for Child Protective Services.

The plan included $115.5 million in extra funding for lawmaker pet projects, though Snyder’s only line-item veto trimmed a $2 million project for a Detroit-area dairy plant from the total.

Snyder said the spending plan reflected the ability of the legislative and executive branches to work together, citing lawmakers' willingness to find an alternative to  environmental cleanup funding after the Legislature failed to take up Snyder’s plan for solid waste tipping fees.

“I proposed an idea for finding a long-term solution to cleaning up contaminated sites, and the Legislature had some of their own ideas, and we came together to solve the problem,” Snyder said.

Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer called the plan "fiscally irresponsible" in a statement Friday and she wasn't the only one concerned about the bill. The supplemental budget stirred some controversy among legislators and public education groups last week since it diverts new online sales tax revenue for road repairs instead of K-12 schools.

An accompanying bill reduced the percentage of income tax collections devoted to the School Aid Fund so that the new online sales tax revenue, which was supposed to be an increase for schools, was simply a wash.

Snyder signed the bill enabling the shift in funding Friday, a week after the lawmaker who introduced the bill, GOP Rep. Martin Howrylak of Troy, asked to have his name removed from the legislation.

Howrylak said his bill, which originally addressed tax exemptions for the wrongfully imprisoned, had been "hijacked by the Senate" and was rife with "fuzzy math" and unintended consequences for the School Aid Fund. 

Snyder said the additional funding was critical for the state's environment and infrastructure and would ensure a "better and brighter future for Michiganders." 

The spending plan is significantly larger than the $630 million version Snyder proposed in November, a jump the state attributed to an increase in federal match dollars for health and human services.

Among the notable expenditures in the plan are $69 million in income tax revenue for cleanup of contaminated sites, replacing depleted bond funding that had previously funded the effort, and $20 million to address PFAS contamination.

The spending plan also included $100 million for the state’s rainy-day fund, bringing the total to roughly $1.1 billion, an extra $100 million for roads, $43.1 million to pay off the unfunded liabilities in the state’s military and judiciary retirement systems, $25 million for school safety grants and $20 million to hire additional staff for Child Protective Services.

Construction projects in Northern Michigan also received sizable allocations: $52 million to supplement federal spending on Soo Locks construction and $4.5 million for project oversight and legal services related to the construction of a tunnel to house Enbridge’s Line 5 beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The spending plan would allow additional $40 million in bonding for a "Heritage Hall" addition to the Michigan Capitol and dedicate $8 million toward a $275 million federal invasive carp barrier project at the Brandon Road Lock Dam in Illinois. There is also $10 million for sexual assault victim assistance grants, $5.9 million to add staff at the state’s Caro Mental Health Center and $7.1 million for Hepatitis A outbreak response.

A separate education spending bill signed by Snyder Friday includes $31.3 million for mental health support services, $18 million in additional funding for districts with fluctuating numbers of at-risk pupils and $1.5 million for early literacy initiatives.

Snyder rejected a $2 million appropriation that would have helped facilitate a Kroger dairy plant project in Wayne County.  The legislation “does not state a public purpose for the funds allocated in that subsection,” Snyder’s office said.

The dairy plan funding was among $115.45 million lawmakers had earmarked for 74 specific projects in their districts through “enhancement grants,” commonly referred to as pork.

Metro Detroit earmarks include $2 million for the Detroit Economic Development Association to prepare for the city’s first-ever Professional Golf Association event; $300,000 for the Dearborn Heights Fire Department; $200,000 for the Arab American and Chaldean Council to pay for a primary care physician; $100,000 for the Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan; and $50,000 for the Detroit Police Athletic League.

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