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Both Sides Working as Key State Budget Deadline Nears

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The legislature and Governor Gretchen Whitmer wanted to hold themselves accountable and pass a timely budget. The time is almost up.

First proposed by Governor Whitmer in February and then countered by the legislature in May, the state budget is a $75 billion plan for the next fiscal year.

When Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, was in office, he had a Republican-led legislature so the budget passed on time, with no problems. With a split government, with a Democrat as governor and a Republican legislature, they agreed to have the budget still done by July 1. 

Since they made that self-imposed deadline, they haven’t fully hit it but the last few years. They have at least gotten the K-12 School budget done and that’s what really matters to have it done by July.

“Imagine planning a vacation to Disney World and not knowing how much money you’re going to have to spend until you get there and find out what it costs and how many kids got in the car,” said Roger Cole, superintendent of Morley-Stanwood Schools.

The state technically doesn’t need a budget done until October, but school districts need their plans done Friday. Thus always trying to plan without a set commitment of funding from Lansing.

“They usually leak out bits of what both parties are talking about and you can kind of divide down the middle,” said Cole.

This is the fourth budget negotiated by Whitmer and lawmakers. They have never finished the entire state budget in time and finished the K-12 budget by July only once.

“I do think that we are capable of getting it done,” said Whitmer, “I’m not sure if it’s going to get done by the end of the month.”

“In a crazy sort of way, this is more difficult than when we don’t have enough money,” said Rep. Jack O’Malley, Republican from Lake Ann.

The state is flush with excess revenue and federal funding but that means more hands are out looking for help and more stress on what to do with the excess.

“I think that we can find some common ground,” said Whitmer, “but you know getting the focus and getting it done by a certain date has been a challenge.”

“It might be a late night, it might carry over into July 1,” said O’Malley, “But before we leave Lansing at the end of the week, it will be done.”