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Legislature to reconvene this week, focus on budget

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature returns to the state Capitol this week following its spring recess.

Before the break, the Legislature’s Democratic majorities adopted new regulations on payday lending, expanded Michigan’s hate crimes law to include attacks on LGBTQ people, and decriminalized paid surrogate pregnancy contracts. The next few weeks will see a ramp-up of activity on spending plans that require legislative approval.

“The budget. The budget. The budget,” said Amber McCann, press secretary for House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit). “That is our No. 1 priority and our No. 1 responsibility.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered her budget proposal two months ago. Her plan for the 2024-25 fiscal year weighs in at $80.7 billion and includes universal pre-kindergarten, two-years of tuition-free community college and a state tax credit for home caregivers.

All of this would have to be approved by the Legislature. Democrats control the House and the Senate and are generally supportive. Republicans say the governor’s budget plans are packed with taxpayer-funded boondoggles.

Michigan’s new fiscal year begins October 1, which is the deadline to have the budget wrapped up in time for state departments and agencies to continue operating uninterrupted. But school districts, public universities and community colleges have budget years that begin earlier – on July 1. They would like to have their budgets done in time to finalize their spending plans.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.