Michigan legislature deciding budget leftovers use

generic Michigan Capitol

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — While lawmakers in Lansing are working on a budget for next year, they are also trying to decide how to spend some extra money from this year, which is no easy task.

Lawmakers will have to decide where money left over from the last budget cycle’s appropriations should go using what’s called a supplemental budget bill.

But it’s difficult to come to a consensus on that type of bill — even when one party controls the legislature and the governor’s seat — because everyone has a different opinion about what programs need more funding.

For example, the Senate thinks there should be $100 million put into snow removal and pothole repair. The House of Representatives concurs, but thinks another $115 million should go to some special road projects. Representatives took put the money the Senate wanted for Medicaid reimbursement into roads. They also stripped out a lot of other projects the Senate had approved.

That means there will have to be a conference committee so the two chambers can come to an agreement.

But how will that happen when the two spending bills are much different? The answer is simple math.

In the House, it takes 56 votes to pass a bill. Republicans have 59 members, so in theory they could  lose three party votes and still pass a bill.

There are 26 Republicans in the Senate. It only takes 20 to pass a bill and 19 yes votes force a tie, which would be broken by the Republican lieutenant governor.

In order to reach a compromise that will pass muster, GOP leadership must decide if they will put in spending priorities that appeal to enough Republicans to get those votes, or sweeten the pot for Democrats and risk losing some of their majority.

Either way, the debate is going on at the same time lawmakers are trying to figure out spending for next year including what some see as a nearly $1 billion surplus.

Regardless of who is in charge, there are still 148 legislature members who all have different ideas about spending. When you factor in the administration, you have the recipe for a lot of horse trading and occasionally a little dysfunction — and Republicans would like to keep that to a minimum in an election year.

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