Gov. Rick Snyder signed the $48.2 billion spending plan for the budget year that starts Oct. 1 into law on Tuesday, noting it socks away money in Michigan's rainy day fund while beefing up the number of state troopers and giving slightly more money to education, local governments and the arts.
"When you look at it, it's a solid budget," Snyder told reporters after the signing ceremony. "Last year, we took on the tough issues. ... Now we're building on that strong foundation."
The package includes a small cut in individual income taxes, $50 million for film credits and a down payment on school employees' health care costs in retirement. The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed the budget bills three weeks ago. Snyder vetoed a few minor line items but left the bills largely intact.
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Democrats have criticized the GOP budget plan for not spending more on education. While funding for public school districts and universities was increased, most are getting less than they received two years ago.
The budget requires universities to hold tuition and fee increases to no more than 4 percent or lose part of their state funding. It includes a $36 million increase for public universities, boosting spending to $1.4 billion, as well as $200 million more for public schools, which will get $12.9 billion overall. Community colleges will get $10.3 million more, for a total of $294 million. All three must meet performance requirements to qualify for much of the extra money.
The $140 million added to the Budget Stabilization Fund will bring the rainy day fund to $504.9 million, its healthiest balance in more than a decade. The fund held $2.2 million in 2010.
The budget includes funding to train 180 new state troopers and hire 20 new forensic science staff at state police laboratories. Nearly 600 more child protective services workers will be hired in the Department of Human Services.
Snyder praised lawmakers for getting the budget done for the second year in a row around June 1, rather than just before the Oct. 1 start of the budget year. Most local governments and school districts start their budget years July 1, so having the state budget done means they can get their spending plans together in a timely fashion.
"We're giving certainty to local governments and schools," Snyder said.
State budget director John Nixon said he was pleased with the state's financial progress.
"We've got our budget in balance, we are solving our long-term liabilities and we are saving for the future," he said in a release. "We have left the dark days of budget deficits behind ... (and) come a very long way in less than two years.