Snyder’s spending plan includes $50M for Flint water crisis; more for HS education

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday proposed a $56 billion state budget that would include modest spending boosts for education, increased savings and directing nearly $50 million more toward Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis.

K-12 school districts would receive between $50 and $100 more per pupil, plus an additional $50 for each high school student. Although it costs more to educate high school students than it does educating younger pupils, the state previously has not provided such extra funding.

The $56.3 billion 2017-18 spending plan is 2.5 percent more than in the current fiscal year.

Snyder told lawmakers his budget prioritizes spending on skilled trades training, education, infrastructure and long-term retirement liabilities. He proposed expanding the definition of at-risk students so districts can receive additional state aid.

“It’s about taking care of the people of Michigan,” he said.

The $48.8 million Flint allotment would bring the total state commitment to resolve the man-made water emergency to about $300 million. Snyder wants to hire another 100 state police troopers, which would bring the number of enlisted officers to its highest level in 16 years.

While Republicans who control the Legislature want an income tax cut, the GOP governor called for depositing $260 million in Michigan’s savings account to increase the rainy day fund to $1 billion. It would be the largest deposit since Snyder’s first year in office, when the fund had just $2 million.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley pointed to tax and fee reductions already made under Snyder’s watch. They include business tax overhauls, a cut for people who trade in their car or boat for a new one, a pending break for some homeowners and renters, and the elimination of extra “driver responsibility” fees imposed on people driving without insurance or proof of insurance.

Republicans have expressed frustration that they have not enacted a broad-based cut for individuals, though, despite controlling state government for six years.

House Speaker Tom Leonard, a DeWitt Republican, said he will push to reduce the 4.25 percent income tax to 3.9 percent — where it was supposed to eventually return to under a 2007 budget deal that Snyder and GOP legislators later amended in 2011.

“It is well past time to give the people of Michigan the tax relief they deserve,” he said in a statement.

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