(Source: MIRS.news, Published 02/07/2024) A proposal to raise the tipping fees at garbage dumps -- something that's been kicking around Lansing for the last 20 years – made it into the Governor's recommended budget Wednesday as a way to raise $80 million to pay for contaminated site clean-up, brownfield development and economic siting to increase the lifespan of landfills.
Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's plan, the landfill tipping fee would move from 36 cents per ton of garbage to $5 per ton, which she argues brings Michigan in line with the average Midwest tipping fee. Similar efforts were made by House Democrats when Whitmer was serving in the lower chamber from 2003 to 2005.
According to the briefing memo, the goal is to create a consistent revenue stream for environmental clean-up projects while also serving as a deterrent for the large amount of Canadian trash that comes over the border. An average of 12 million cubic yards annually comes into Michigan landfills, which makes up about 25 percent of all Michigan waste.
With the money collected from the fee, 75 percent of the $80 million raised would go to contaminated site clean-up and brownfield redevelopment, and Economic Siting (state restricted funds) to increase the lifespan of Michigan landfills. Another 13 percent would go to recycling initiatives and 7 percent would go to landfill operations.
“This initiative will concurrently make the state a healthier and more attractive place to live in while ensuring that the state meets its climate goals and stops Michigan from continuing to be the destination for other states' waste,” the Governor's briefing memo reads.
On other environmental news, the Michigan Environmental Council bemoaned the Governor's suggestion to cut away $40 million in transit funding and not following up on the current year's investment into new housing.
“The Governor's budget recommendations have some great pieces, like major climate investments, increasing the waste disposal fee and some water infrastructure investments,” said Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer for the Michigan Environmental Council.
“Unfortunately, when the budget proposes investing another $150 million in a nuclear plant with a questionable future; when it cuts transit funding we desperately need and underfunds critical housing retrofits . . . we know what we need to fund to protect our state and grow out population.”
More details can be found here.
Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)
Whitmer’s recommendation includes $33.6 million for the Cannabis Regulatory Agency, a $3.4 million increase that comes with nine new positions for increased enforcement and safety inspections.
Whitmer also requested $7 million in additional funds for implementation of new clean energy legislation enacted in 2023, including $5.8 million and 31 new positions for the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to conduct new renewable energy plan reviews and siting.
Also, in the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy budget, the Governor recommended a $1 billion budget with $90 million in one-time funding in Fiscal Year 2025.
She also recommended $40 million from the General Fund for water infrastructure replacement and improvements, $25 million for electric vehicle charging station expansion to install stations at multi-family complexes and commercial parking lots and $15.3 million for municipal green infrastructure projects, including stormwater diversion infrastructure.
Other priorities include:
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
This includes $17.2 million for state parks improvements, which is intended to make the recreation passport an opt-out process and provide free access for all Michigan veterans.
The total DNR budget recommendation is $542.8 million, with $67.8 million from the General Fund.
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD)
The $144.2 million budget is a 14.5% decrease from Fiscal Year 2024 that includes $4 million for a farm to family program to support regenerative farming and funding to increase 24 full time positions for the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program Team to support program technicians, who currently support on-farm best practices, as state employees.
Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO)
The Governor's executive budget recommendation for Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), which oversees business incentives, would see a 31.2 percent drop in spending, a more than $894 million reduction from the current fiscal year.
The Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund, for luring large-scale corporate developments, remains poised to receive $500 million in state-restricted funds.
A "Revitalization and Placemaking Program" for rehabilitating blighted and historic structures, replacing them with infrastructure linked to social zones and public spaces, will also access $50 million in restricted bucks, under Whitmer's suggestions.
Technology, Management and Budget
- $35 million to replace old computers systems in the education certification process and various other state functions. The money will also go to explore how artificial intelligence could be used to improve some government services.
- $25 million for a “Make It In Michigan Competitive Fund” to access more federal programs.
- $10 million for a new State Property Self-Insurance Fund that the state can draw from to mitigate high-cost premiums and claims
- $2.4 million to make the michigan.gov website readable in different languages.
- $2 million to expand the number of electric vehicles in the state fleet.
- $1.6 million to reduce wait times for the Office of Retirement Services (ORS).
- $6.3 million to turn the Thumb Correctional Facility into the Thumb Education Center, the first educational prison facility at this scale in the country.
- $26.7 million more in prison health care costs for more nurses and to cover the rising costs of prescription drugs.
- $1.5 million for a mentoring program that connects parolees with those who have successfully gone through the process of re-entering life outside of prison.
Department of Transportation
- $397.6 million more for roads and bridges, of which roughly half going to state projects and the other half going to local road and bridge projects.
- $24 million for capital improvements at airports
- $5 million to continue support for the MiContracting program to encourage the participation of socially or economically disadvantaged contractors and suppliers in state transportation projects.
Department of Treasury
- $25 million for the one-time Vehicle Rebate program.
- $3 million on a Michigan Achieving a Better Life Experience Program, which is money for disabled individuals that is given in a way that doesn’t impact their eligibility for other programs.
- $3 million for a new retirement marketplace for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees to provide optional retirement savings plans.
- $1.9 million to expand the regulation of internet gaming and sports betting.
- $850,000 more to help the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) crack down on people who scammed the authority during the disbursement of $1 billion in COVID relief money.
- $900,000 for the expected bump in litigation surrounding the Michigan Public Service Commission
- $740,000 to provide necessary legal services for the new Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential (MiLEAP)
Secretary of State
- $18.8 million to help locals provide nine days of early voting for every statewide or federal election, more drop boxes and pre-paid postage for absentee ballots.
- $5.7 million on additional election security measures, improved testing and strengthened voting systems.
- $1.1 million to hire staff for the new public official financial disclosure requirements.
Michigan State Police
- $5.5 million for a 120-cadet trooper school geared toward replacing retiring troopers with a increasing diverse force.
- $5 million so local governments can hire or retain more police officers.
- $1.4 million to prevent guns from entering the Capitol and Heritage Hall
- $5 million more to reduce the backlog of discrimination cases. The Department closed 1,368 cases in FY 2023, but still has 1,411 cases over a year old and 1,289 cases less than a year old.
- $4.6 million to continue the transition away from a locally managed trial court case management system to a state-managed system.
- $3.3 million for more staff at the State Appellate Defender’s Office, which are seeing a return to pre-pandemic case levels.
- $472,100 to increase the Michigan Supreme Court Justice salaries and to pay for new judges in Kent and Macomb counties.
- A 5% increase for the Senate and House, the Auditor General, the fiscal agencies and related legislative entities
- $10.5 million for the maintenance and restoration of the state Capitol buildings and grounds
Military and Veterans Affairs
- $10 million in one-time General Fund money to the Selfridge Air National Guard Base for capital improvements.
- $1.5 million in grants to non-profit organizations dedicated to reducing veteran homelessness.