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House Panel Cuts Community Health, Education Budgets


Hempcheff
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Lansing— A plan to fund K-12 schools squeaked by in the state Senate this afternoon, with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley casting the deciding vote following a 19-19 tie.

 

The narrowness of the vote reveals the difficulty of passing a budget that includes a $340 per pupil cut to public schools, and eliminates scores of school programs.

 

 

The Senate could stay as late at 9 tonight for votes on higher education, community colleges and other budgets. Meanwhile the Republican majority in the House is debating the chamber's eight-bill tax reform package, and hopes to pass it by the end of today's session.

 

The Senate and House are trying to pass budgets that must be reconciled before sending the state budget to Gov. Rick Snyder for a signature. The Legislature has vowed to meet a self-imposed deadline of June 1.

 

Earlier today, the House Appropriations Committee passed budgets for the departments of Community Health, Human Services and education. They plan to reconvene following today's House session in an effort to send all of the chamber's budgets to the full House by the end of the day Thursday.

 

The lower chamber's Community Health and Human Services budgets would privatize workers who determine eligibility for benefits and cut nearly 700 jobs.

 

The Education Department's budget would be cut by $11.6 million, including $1.9 million from the general fund. The appropriation for libraries would be slashed by $2.3 million.

 

The Community Health budget would drop by $201.4 million due to the loss of one-time federal funding that forestalled huge cuts last year.

 

The House plan would eliminate mental health funding from special programs that serve specific ethnic populations, including the Dearborn social services agency ACCESS, the Jewish Federation and other groups. Most programs paid by the Healthy Michigan Fund, including health screenings, would be eliminated.

 

"I think we all need the importance of funding prevention," said Rep. Joan Bauer, among the Democrats on the committee who objected to many of the cuts.

 

An amendment approved by the committee would pave the way for privatization of the state's medical marijuana program, which has been plagued by delays in approving a blizzard of applications for cards that allow citizens to use the drug for health reasons.

 

"We're about 30,000 behind on medical marijuana (applications), and this would give us an option to look at privatizing it," said Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who proposed the amendment.

 

Tiffiany Leischner of Grand Ledge was the only citizen to testify before the committee this morning. Her 21-year-old daughter, Lindsey, is developmentally disabled, and suffers from autism and depression. The family pays $800 to $1,200 per month out of pocket for treatments not covered by the state. She said the cuts would impose an additional hardship on the family.

 

"Gov. Snyder has stated that no services would be cut for the disabled, but that isn't reality if the general funds are cut once again," Leischner told the committee. "It is when we don't have all the facts, or we look away and blindly decide to cut again that we continue the cycle of not serving the ones that need it."

 

The House would cut $30 million more from the Department of Human Services than Snyder's plan, but provide $55 million more for DHS than the bill passed by the full Senate on Tuesday. The House plan would result in a gross loss of $90 million for the department due to the loss of one-time federal funding that pumped up the appropriation last year.

 

The House would eliminate 12,600 cases from welfare rolls by instituting a 48-month lifetime time limit for receiving state benefits. The plan would also toughen eligibility requirements to receive state-funded disability payments, and reduce payments from $269 per month to $175 per month.

 

Child care subsidies would be reduced from $1.60 per hour per child, to $1.35, though caregivers could receive an hourly rate of $1.85 if they get more training. Funding would be eliminated for many special programs.

 

The House Appropriations Committee is now considering the general government budget, which includes revenue sharing for local governments to help pay for police, fire and other city services.

 

The House and Senate are working to close a $1.4 billion deficit in the state's 2011-12 fiscal year budget that begins Oct. 1. Gov. Rick Snyder proposed a budget plan in February that closes the deficit and calls for $1.8 billion in tax cuts for businesses. Once budgets for all of the state departments are passed in the House and the Senate, the chambers must reconcile the differences before sending a final budget to Snyder to be signed into law. The Republican-controlled Legislature has vowed to get the budget to Snyder by June 1.

 

kbouffard@detnews.com

 

(517) 371-3660

 

 

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/a...s#ixzz1KoxuG9kf

Edited by Hempcheff
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I know of one such organization that would be sure to stay strictly in compliance with all of the requirements set forth in the law.

Wouldn't that be awesome? However I doubt they would allow it. But man would that be awesome. Would also provide much needed work for some disabled folks who can't get SSI, etc, I bet that organization would be very open to hiring individuals with disabilities.

 

One can only dream.

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