Over the weekend, conference committees set up by the state legislature returned further cuts designed to fill the 2.8 billion dollar shortfall in Michigan's budget. Two major issues were the aid provided to local governments and the corrections budget. Although together the proposed cuts only reduce the deficit some 180 million dollars total, they could have far ranging effects on Michigan's local governments and prison system..
The lastest budget proposal vows to slash subsidies to local governments by 140 million dollars, or roughly 13% of the total aid given out by the state government to local communities. This could lead to cuts in local services, as municipal governments scramble to replace the lost revenue or slash city costs. Leaders in Michigan's Municipal League predict that cuts to city support will lead to further layoffs for firefighters, police officers, and other public safety officials.
The cuts to the prison system will be smaller, only 42.7 million dollars, or 841 dollars per prisoner. However, the corrections budget has been signficantly reduced in previous state budgets, meaning the system will continue to save money using early parole for well-behaved prisoners, and other stop-gap measures. Furthermore, the state legislature does not elaborate on where the cuts should come from, meaning the executive branch might be forced to generate new ideas that hopefully improve efficiency within the system. Although this may sound good in principle, in practice the state might cut costs simply by releasing inmates early to reduce the Michigan prison population.