Legislature passes $1.1B bill funding redistricting panel, businesses, police and more ⋆

After much legislative hoop-jumping, both the Michigan House and Senate on Thursday approved a $1.1 billion supplemental spending plan that now heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature.

In addition to $146.3 million to close out Fiscal Year 2022, Senate Bill 7 also contains $946 million for various projects, including roughly $200 million to revitalize an Upper Peninsula paper mill.

After a report with significant changes was signed by a conference committee of House and Senate members on Thursday afternoon, the bill passed 24-14 in the Senate, with four Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with majority Democrats. In the House, meanwhile, it passed 60-48 with a single Democrat, Dylan Wegela (D-Garden City), voting against it and several Republicans voting in favor.

The process was slowed down earlier in the week when House Republicans chose to unanimously oppose a largely procedural vote on the bill Tuesday, forcing state Rep. Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph) to drive two hours from the hospital where his daughter had just been born to cast a needed vote to move it to the Senate. That version of the bill zeroed out line-item funding proposals so that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders could negotiate what would go in the final bill.

House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.) slammed the bill and the process.  

“Democrats are starting their new majority by shoving an enormous, secret spending bill down the throats of the people of Michigan,” said Hall in a statement. 

Updated: $1.3B budget supplementals shoot to governor

The Legislature often approves supplemental spending in addition to an annual budget. Last session, Republican leaders failed to strike a deal with Whitmer on a supplemental to close out the books.

In recent years, the GOP-controlled Legislature passed several such bills, including a $1.3 billion supplemental in the 2018 lame duck session signed by former Gov. Rick Snyder that sapped the state’s surplus before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took office.

House Appropriations Chair Angela Witwer (D-Delta Twp.), told the Detroit News that the items that ended up being funded will benefit residents across the state, regardless of political affiliation. 

“We reached across the aisle,” said Witwer. “We hit business, workforce development, priorities that both caucuses have.”

Of the approximately $946 million in additional spending, a House Fiscal Agency analysis indicates more than half will be split between three programs: the U.P. paper mill funding, which is expected to help retain 1,200 jobs in Delta County; $150 million to be deposited into the state’s business incentive program, known as the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) Fund; with another $150 million to create a program that would provide tax credits towards affordable housing.

Other major expenditures include $100 million to be administered by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) for community revitalization grants, $75 million also administered by the MSF for small businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, $75 million for a grant program administered by the State Land Bank Authority for blight elimination and $50 million for a grant program to be administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to incentivize eligible developers to invest in medium density housing.

$33 million is also set aside for Michigan Infrastructure Grants, of which $25 million would be used to improve the Fruit Ridge Avenue bridge in the city of Walker in Kent County and $8 million for the village of Lexington in Sanilac County to redevelop Lexington Harbor.

Smaller expenditures include $25 million for the Water Shutoff Prevention Fund, $25 million for projects for construction or preservation of streets in cities and villages with populations of 10,000 or less and $20 million for the Law Enforcement Officers Training Fund.

There is also $1.5 million for the state’s independent redistricting commission, which was not originally funded in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The panel has filed suit against the Legislature to compel them to appropriate funding.

Of the additional expenditures, $706.2 million will come from state tax dollars, while federal funds will provide the remaining $240 million.

authored by Jon King
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2023%2F01%2F27%2Flegislature-passes-1-1b-bill-funding-redistricting-panel-businesses-police-and-more%2F

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