LANSING, MI — The Michigan Senate on Thursday finished passing a $56.1 billion budget, narrowly rejecting an amendment that would have put $542 million leftover dollars into roads.
The House and Senate have purposely left money unallocated in their respective versions of the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget, leaving room for changes like tax relief or teacher pension changes that would cost the state money.
In the Senate budget passed Thursday, the body left $542 million unallocated by not agreeing to Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposes increases for a Flint water reserve fund, an infrastructure fund and the rainy day fund.
“We made the decision to hold that money for other purposes,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell.
While the Senate may be saving for big priorities, Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, almost convinced his colleagues to put the unallocated money into what he says is a big priority for Michigan residents: roads.
“It’s the number one issue that I hear from my constituents every day. We still have not solved the problem, and people are tired of hearing that we’ve done a solution that isn’t actually solving the problem. So to put the cuts that we’ve identified towards roads seems like the responsible thing to do,” Hertel said.
But Hildenbrand said the chamber had already passed a roads plan back in 2015. The transportation budget approved by the Senate includes $207.4 million for roads based on that legislation.
Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, said flooding the line item could lead to increased costs for road projects.