Miller, LaSata preview budget talks, upcoming issues in new legislative session

THREE RIVERS — The Michigan state legislature returned to work recently, and all eyes will be on the budget showdown that is about to occur between the Republican-led legislature and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
With a deadline to get a new state budget done by the start of the new fiscal year Oct. 1, both State Rep. Aaron Miller and State Sen. Kim LaSata said in interviews with the Commercial-News Friday they are working hard to get a budget deal done by that time.
“We’ve been back for a couple of weeks now full time, and we’ve been working hard on the budget,” Miller said. “That’s what I’ve been working on the last few days, and it’s going to be a busy September.”
Miller and LaSata said there has been some progress made with the budget as of late, alluding to an agreement Republican legislative leaders made Thursday on a budget framework. According to a report from the Associated Press, the legislature intends to begin passing spending bills this week.
“In the next week, we’re going to see some good things in the way of a budget, and one that I think is going to be good,” Miller said.
LaSata, who chairs the appropriations committee for higher education and community colleges, said she received target spending levels for that area Thursday. While she didn’t say what the exact target level is, she said she had been given a target earlier in the summer for a 1.5 percent increase in spending in that area. She said that number was different from the target increase the House got around the same time, which was 0.7 percent.
“I’ll be working with my counterpart from the House, Rep. [Scott] VanSingel, and we’ll have our budget ready and we’ll float out our budgets on Thursday,” LaSata said. “We’ve figured out all the boilerplate language, we’re just waiting on our new targets, and we’re pretty much on the same page. We’ll get it done without much difficulty.”
Miller said the budget encompasses many things people “take for granted,” such as schools, roads, public safety, and local health departments.

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