The House and Senate bi-partisan conference committee today approved sweeping cuts in state spending, pending votes on the bills in both the House and Senate. All together, the bills will cut between 1.2 and 1.7 million dollars from the current state budget, depending on whether House Democrats succeed in adding tax increases and other revenue generating measures to the final budget agreement. State lawmakers expect to fill the rest of the 2.8 billion dollar deficit with federal stimulus money, meaning at least 500 million in additional cuts will be needed next year. READ MORE.
Education funding was the hardest hit, with funding per pupil in the state declining more than 200 dollars. Furthermore, the committee reduced the Michigan Promise Grant scholarships by 1000 dollars per student, which will affect current and future college students. Some details remain unresolved, including discussions of local revenues and state police funding.
Keep in mind that these talks are not the final stage to creating a functional state budget. Although the conference committee is an important step forward, the Republican Senate and Democratic House must still pass identical versions of the budget before it goes to Granholm for final approval. Some House Democrats have indicated that they are reluctant to approve a final budget that does not utilize revenue generating measures (including tax increases), meaning the state legislature will struggle to meet the October 1st deadline for a state shutdown. Another option would be to utilize the previous year's budget as a stopgap, although this is unpopular with most lawmakers.