Budget update — moving forward

Earlier this year, we heard the governor’s recommendations for the fiscal year 2020 budget. While much of the focus since then has been on her gas tax proposal, we are working to determine priorities like funding our roads, focusing on clean water and ensuring that students in Michigan are receiving a good education.

The budget discussions are well underway, and the Senate subcommittees have reported their proposed budgets. The bills now move before the Senate Committee on Appropriations and from there the Senate floor.

Most importantly, included in the plans approved last week is funding for a number of measures surrounding water quality. I chair the Natural Resources and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee and the plan we approved adds $120 million to current efforts to address water quality issues such as PFAS and other contaminants, Lead and Copper Rule implementation, well testing and more. A healthy environment and clean drinking water are not partisan issues and are something we can all support.

The plans that are being rolled out also include increased funding for roads and one-time funding to fully implement the existing $1.2 billion road funding plan one year early. The current road funding plans have proven to be successful, and speeding up the implementation by one year will get more roads fixed and allow us to look to the future and start examining how future funding efforts could look.

The proposals also include funding increases for our state’s schools. A large theme in this budget is eliminating any funding gaps in per-pupil funding between schools. Included in the proposal is $342 million for foundation allowance increases that continues the state’s efforts to eliminate the per pupil funding gap. The governor called for increased foundation allowances between $120 and $180 per pupil using a 1.5x formula, which would cost $235 million. The Senate plan increased foundation allowances between $135 and $270 per pupil using a 2x formula, raising the investment to $342 million. Also included is funding for safety grants, career technical education, skilled trades, community colleges and our state’s public universities.

The main goal that I have, and that many of my colleagues have, is to continue the trend of getting a final product completed well before the beginning of the next fiscal year. We must get it approved as soon as possible so local governments and schools know what funding they’ll receive from the state so they can balance their own budgets.

As vice chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, I will continue to work with my colleagues in both the Senate and the House to deliver a fiscally responsible balanced budget to the governor’s desk.

Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, represents the 34th state Senate District, which includes Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties.