(Source: MIRS.news, Published 05/22/23) When it comes to differences within the General Government budget among the House, Senate and Governor's proposals, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) is where it's at.
The dollar amounts in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budgets weren't drastically different when comparing the budgets (Governor $5.085 billion, House $5.035 billion and Senate $5.003 billion).
But the DTMB, the Department of Treasury and the Legislature saw the most differences. Below are the six budgets with the most differences flagged by MIRS.
1. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wanted $100 million more ($128 million overall) for maintenance, demolition and infrastructure projects for 800 buildings and 5,000 state-owned structures, $30 million more than last year.
The House provided only $68 million for the same projects. The Senate appropriated $31.8 million for "special maintenance for state facilities" and remodeling, along with an additional $20 million in one-time funding to aid in the state building transition and utilization process.
Other highlights included in the DTMB budget were:
- The Governor set aside $76.2 million for new computer systems, including $40.5 million for the state's city income tax collection service to bring in Flint and 22 other cities. Currently, only Detroit uses it. The House included a $100 placeholder for the project, while the Senate appropriated $41.2 million.
2. The Governor wants to move all 14,000 state-owned and leased vehicles to electric and the House is on board at a cost of $10 million to begin the process. The Senate is looking at a slower transition … putting in $2.5 million for the coming fiscal year.
3. The Senate proposed several increases for the House, Senate, Legislative Auditor General, Legislative Council and retirement system.
The Senate proposed a 4% increase for both House and Senate operations and IT services, with $73.481 million for the House and $50.926 million for the Senate.
The Legislative Auditor General also received a 4% increase and a $29.3 million appropriation, and the Legislative Council received a 4% increase to $19.89 million.
General operations for the state Capitol historical site were increased to $6.26 million, and maintenance costs were increased to $3.772 million.
Binsfeld Office Building operations were also increased to $9.395 million. The only Senate decrease came from the Cora Anderson Building operation costs, which were decreased by $6.7 million.
The legislative retirement system was increased by 4%, for a total of $5.981 million, along with the Michigan Veterans Facility Ombudsman, which was increased by 4% for a total of $351,000.
The Senate and House fiscal agencies funding was also increased by 4%, with $173,500 for each agency.
The only reference to legislative operations in the House and executive budget recommendations was an increase of $196,600 related to legislative employees and property management costs, a net reduction of $19,100 from the General Fund.
Instead, the House recommended $389,000 for three new positions for the Legislative Corrections Ombudsman. The Senate included $237,600 for a 22% increase.
The House also included $1 million in General Fund dollars for the Sentencing Commission, while the Senate proposed $100,000.
The total Senate budget was $217.4 million, while the House proposed $186.4 million. The Governor's recommendation was $186.9 million.
4. All three branches funded the continuation of the "job court pilot program" to some extent within the Department of Attorney General's budget, starting with an executive recommendation of $5 million and five full-time positions.
The job court is a pilot program in three counties: Wayne, Genesee and Marquette.
It offers the option of dismissal of charges for pre-trial defendants who are charged with low-level, non-violent crimes. Instead, defendants would be required to maintain employment through the program for one year.
The House further increased funding for the program with $8.6 million, including $6.1 million in one-time funding, and two-and-a-half full-time positions.
The Senate also continued the program with a $5 million appropriation, which is intended to divert an estimated 450 cases annually.
Other highlights in the Attorney General's budget included:
- A House program providing $1.4 million to support attorneys, investigators and victim advocates dedicated to alleviating high sexual assault caseloads.
- A $403,400 Senate appropriation to provide additional legal services to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
- An additional $30,000 to the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council to provide in-person training for county prosecutors included in the Senate budget.
- A $10 million Senate appropriation to support digital evidence storage for local county prosecutors.
5. The House Department of State budget included a $19.7 million appropriation to assist with implementing additional costs for Proposal 2, a $15 million increase from the executive recommendation.
The executive recommendation was $4.7 million and three full-time positions to support Proposal 1 and 2 costs, which the House concurred with. The executive also recommended $11.5 million in FY 2022-23 to implement the ballot proposals, which was also concurred.
The Senate's recommendation provided funding for three positions to implement Proposals 1 and 2, with a $4.7 million appropriation attached.
The Senate also included a $100 placeholder for additional implementation costs.
The other major difference between the budgets was a $50,000 appropriation by the House to facilitate organ donor registration on state tax forms in coordination with the Treasury.
6. The Department of Civil Rights budget included funding for 34 new positions and three additional enforcement teams to assist in reducing the backlog of discrimination complaint cases that built up after the pandemic.
The executive recommendation also included $5.7 million in funding, which was intended to reduce the average complaint investigation completion time to between six and nine months.
The House provided $11.4 million in funding for the three additional enforcement teams.
The Senate included $3 million and 20 full-time positions to create two enforcement teams, with the goal of completing cases within nine months.
In addition to addressing the backlog of cases, the House also recommended $2 million to cover expenses from implementing 2023 PA 6, which added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.
Discrimination complaints under these categories would now be included under the Civil Rights Department's jurisdiction, and expenses could include IT updates, community outreach and complaint defendant hearings.
Almost everything else under the executive recommendation was concurred by both chambers, including an annual diversity, equity and inclusion summit.
Both the Executive and Legislative Auditor General budgets were almost identical, with small changes to reflect increased operational costs and a 4% increase in the Senate to account for unclassified salaries within the Legislative Auditor General.