Michigan leaders say they've reached deal on new state budget

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The GOP-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration have reached a deal to finalize the state's next budget, officials said  Wednesday, 15 days before the deadline for a new funding plan.

While the details of the new budget won't be revealed until the proposal is voted on in the coming days, the agreement among Senate Appropriations Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland; House Appropriations Chairman Thomas Albert, R-Lowell; and Budget Director David Massaron marked a significant milestone in the process.

"By working together our divided Michigan government has shown what can be accomplished when Michigan families are put first," Stamas said in a statement. "Michigan families are counting on us to invest in them. This budget does that by laying the groundwork for a healthy economy for Michigan’s future."

The Michigan Capitol is pictured on Nov. 3, 2020.

Over the summer, Whitmer and the Legislature approved a $17.1 billion budget for K-12 schools, leaving the funding for state departments and universities unresolved. For weeks, they've been negotiating, attempting to determine how to spend an estimated $8 billion more than expected from federal stimulus money and a state surplus.

The budget process is expected to proceed normally with conference committees and a floor vote in the upcoming week, said the statement from legislative leaders on Wednesday.

"This is a significant step forward," Albert said of the agreement. “A historic investment in schools already has been finalized, and now we are close to finishing work on other parts of the state budget that will help meet the needs of Michigan residents and continue the state’s recovery from the COVID pandemic."

Whitmer signed the current year's budget into law on Sept. 30, 2020. At that time, it amounted to $62.8 billion.

The governor and Republican lawmakers have often clashed this year over how to respond to COVID-19. But Massaron, who works for Whitmer, said the upcoming budget plan is "good for Michigan."

"It reflects shared priorities that will move Michigan forward as we continue to emerge from the pandemic as an even stronger state," Massaron said.

The new budget year begins Oct. 1.