Spinal Column: Legislature delivers balanced budget to governor, focusing on education, roads

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Last week the state Legislature sent the Fiscal Year 2016 budget to Gov. Rick Snyder. I am proud to report that for the fifth year in a row, lawmakers have delivered a balanced budget to the governor several months before the Sept. 30 deadline.

As we have done for the past several years, Senate Republicans have submitted a budget that delivers an efficient and effective state government that operates within our means. The budget promotes accountability by paying down debt and reinforcing a long-term approach to a structurally sound budget.

Due to the encouraging figures from last month’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, we have been able to direct more money toward roads in this year’s budget. We have invested an additional $400 million to fix, maintain and repair our infrastructure.

Once again, we have strengthened our commitment to education. We have increased funding for third-grade reading to $31.5 million, helping to ensure a brighter, better outcome for Michigan’s children.

Over the past five years, we have invested more than $1 billion in state funding for our schools to deliver a quality education for all our students. In addition, this year more money is directed to the classroom and our kids by reducing legacy costs, which is also helping to pay for the increasing costs of retiree benefits.

The FY 2016 budget allocates $36.6 million for career and technical education. This will help energize our workforce by providing more funding for skilled trades, workforce development and adult education programs.

The budget invests in our local communities and promotes safer communities by directing more money toward local police and fire services. And it enhances public safety with additional money to fund the hiring of 88 new state troopers to help fight crime in our communities.

Senate Republicans will continue fighting for hardworking taxpayers to build on the foundation we have laid for Michigan’s future economic success.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.