LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday finished approving a nearly $49 billion spending plan that includes a temporary boost in road upkeep but no expansion of health insurance to more low-income residents.
Work on the budget was completed with the Republican-led Senate's 24-14 passage of a major $33.6 billion omnibus bill covering spending by state agencies. The vote followed approval last week of funding for K-12 schools, universities and community colleges.
The plan includes an additional $350 million to fix deteriorating roads and bridges — a significant one-time expenditure but far short of the $1.2 billion a year that would be raised under Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed increase in the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fee.
The Republican governor and legislators continue to work on road funding along with Medicaid expansion, though the odds of deals being reached before the summer break are shrinking by the day.
While majority GOP lawmakers remain opposed to Medicaid expansion without big changes to the federal health care program, they did extend dental coverage to an additional 70,500 poor children in Ingham, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties. When the next budget kicks in Oct. 1, the Healthy Kids Dental program will be available in 78 of 83 counties in Michigan.
The budget also increases state revenue-sharing payments for police, fire and other local services by 4 percent; puts $75 million into savings; calls for the privatization of more prison services; and includes less money to hire child welfare workers than proposed by Snyder. It spares the Department of Human Services, however, from the potential loss of more than 1,000 positions as called for earlier by the Republican-controlled House.
The agency's leadership expects to trim some positions through attrition and a hiring freeze — not layoffs.
"I think this is the best budget I've been a part of. I really do," said Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, saying it's the third straight year the budget is done about four months before the fiscal year begins. "Six hundred million dollars now is in the savings account. We put more money toward education than we have in recent years, for sure."
Twelve Democrats and two Republicans voted against the budget bill.
Democrats criticized the GOP for not making 320,000 more residents eligible for Medicaid under the federal health care law and for pushing back against a set of uniform benchmarks for reading, writing and math that were adopted previously.
"This bill makes it very clear where your priorities lie. They're not with the students who benefit from a Common Core curriculum. They're not with the countless families who would benefit from Medicaid expansion, nor are they with the business community who's urged you for passage," said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing.