From roads to schools, state budget touches you
Jul 21, 2015 at 12:46 PM
The Republican-crafted spending plan, signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder Thursday, affects many corners of Michigan life — from how much it will cost to hunt and fish to fixing deteriorating roads to lengthening the school year.
Here's a look at ways the budget will shape the state's priorities and touch lives across Michigan:
— If you attend one of the state's 15 public universities, your tuition is unlikely to rise more than 3.75 percent unless colleges want to lose potential funding.
— If you have a 4-year-old, he or she might be eligible for publicly funded preschool under an effort to give 16,000 more disadvantaged kids the chance to be better prepared for K-12 schooling. The income cutoff is roughly $39,000 for a parent with one child, $59,000 for a family of four — with slots first going to the poorest children.
—If you're in first through 12th grade, you're looking at going to school longer. K-12 districts are required to have at least 175 days of instruction next year instead of 170 this year, with exceptions for snow days and other emergencies.
—If you have a child in school, overall state spending will be up about 3 percent. But how your district is affected will vary, depending on whether it' better-funded or lower-funded and if it meets various requirements to get additional funding. Districts' traditional per-pupil grant is not as big as they would like, but Snyder says the state is helping cover employee retirement costs equaling $250 per student.
—If your child is in grades 5 to 12, he or she can enroll in up to two online courses paid for by the district.
—If you're a teacher or school administrator, implementing more rigorous "Common Core" standards designed to ensure students get a deeper understanding of math, reading and other subjects is on hold. The state Board of Education adopted the standards in 2010, but Republicans blocked funding for the initiative next year. Lawmakers plan to revisit the issue after their summer break.
—If you pay state income taxes, rates won't change. The same goes for the Michigan's sales tax. The 2012 tax year brought higher taxes to people with retirement income and certain better-earning homeowners along with lower refunds for low-income workers. There's no plan to change that in the 2013 tax year.
—If you're a taxpayer, you may get a bit of relief. Under the budget agreement, $20 million is supposed to be set aside for "individual tax relief." Details aren't fleshed out, though that would equate to $2 for every Michigan resident.
—If you drive, you'll probably see more construction on roads and bridges. The state is spending $350 million more to fix deteriorating roads thanks mostly to higher-than-expected income tax collections. Talk of raising the gasoline tax, sales tax or vehicle registration fees to permanently boost transportation spending by at least $1.2 billion a year have gone nowhere, though legislators will revisit the issue in the fall.
LAW AND ORDER
—If you're interested in a career in law enforcement, you can apply to become a state trooper. The state is budgeting to graduate 107 new troopers from a training academy. Most are likely to be sent to four high-crime cities: Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac.
—If you want to become a prison guard, now's your chance. Michigan will train 400 more corrections officers because of projected attrition in ranks.
—If you see a state police car, it may look different. The budget includes $1.1 million more to help cycle out older Ford Crown Victorias with new Dodge Chargers as the main patrol sedan.
—If you tip off the authorities to issues involving registered sex offenders, the state's sex offender unit must follow up with law enforcement agencies assigned to the tip within 10 working days.
—If you hunt or fish, you'll pay more in license fees starting in March — assuming the Senate gives final approval to separate legislation as early as this week. A deer tag effectively will cost about double. A new "base" hunting license will cost $11 for in-state residents and $151 for out-of-staters. Tags for deer will rise from $15 to $20. A 24-hour fishing license is increasing from $7 to $10. It's the first significant hike in hunting and fishing fees in 15 years.
—If you ride an off-road vehicle, you will pay $26.25 for a license instead of $16.25.
—If you like the Lottery, you may be able to buy tickets or play games on the Internet. The budget blocks new money to help create an iLottery in 2014 — as requested by the Snyder administration — but lawmakers dropped plans to prohibit the Lottery Bureau from spending other funds on the iLottery. A spokeswoman says the bureau is looking at ways to keep the initiative going. Stay tuned.
—If you're a penny pincher, you'll like a fatter state savings account. The rainy day fund will receive a $75 million deposit, growing to $580 million.
—If you want to look up the driving record of someone, it'll cost $8 instead of $7.
—If you like the state's Pure Michigan tourism and marketing campaign, it's going more international. An extra $4 million is being added to the $25 million budget, primarily to tap the Toronto market.
—If you hope to spot a movie-star actor or actress, you don't have to worry about a big drop in film production in Michigan. The state again will entice Hollywood with $50 million worth of tax incentives. Snyder had wanted to cut the program in half.