Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled a proposed $50.9 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. That represents a 5.8 percent increase over the current year's $48.1 billion in spending. All state budgets proposed by Michigan Governors face hurdles. Many of these hurdles are obvious from the start. Other hurdles arise as the legislature goes through the process of sorting through the details. At first glance, the budget Snyder presented includes two conspicuous items he is likely to have trouble getting lawmakers to approve. They are: ● His call for $1.2 billion in new transportation dollars for roads and bridges. ● His call for an expansion of Medicaid, to put Michigan in line with the federal Affordable Care Act – also commonly known as Obamacare. Many Republicans can be expected to resist casting their votes for the Medicaid expansion. Both Republicans and Democrats will look for detours around the road funding plan. Snyder uses a two-year budget process. That means his most significant budgetary initiatives and reforms are proposed in the odd-numbered (non-election) year. In the even-numbered year the budget more or less follows through with the previous year’s plan. In 2011, Snyder made bold proposals to change the structure of Michigan’s tax and budget system. At the time, many observers believed he was over-reaching. Despite the predictions of doom, the legislature ultimately passed most of the measures he asked it to pass.
As in every year, the budget process in 2011 included compromises. Undoubtedly, some of those were prearranged changes that Snyder’s administration had foreseen. Usually a proposed budget includes things the administration assumes the legislature will either get rid of, or alter. What an administration asks for can be very different from what it really expects to achieve.