Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed into law the $47.4 billion budget that lawmakers sent him last month, putting in place a plan that he said will require sacrifice but mark "a major milestone in the reinvention of Michigan."
The budget resolves a $1.5 billion shortfall and partially addresses long-term pension and health care liabilities in the spending plan that takes effect Oct. 1. The 2011-12 budget also had to make up for $1 billion in revenue lost through a tax cut that will essentially eliminate business taxes from all companies except large corporations with shareholders.
"This was a difficult budget to do ... and we had to make difficult decisions," Snyder said.
The Republican governor set a May 31 deadline to get the budget done and gave Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger clocks that counted down to that date to make his point.
The GOP-led Legislature complied and passed the plan before Memorial Day for the first time in three decades. Early completion of the budget gives school districts and local governments with budget years that start July 1 some certainty about state assistance, even though many school and local officials don't like what's in the budget plan.
Critics said the budget makes overly painful cuts to public schools, universities, local governments and key services. School districts saw funding cut by 2.2 percent, which has led to widespread teacher layoffs. Universities saw their state funding cut 15 percent, and local governments will see about $100 million less.
House Democratic Leader Richard Hammel denounced the budget, saying "just because you turn your test in early doesn't mean you're going to get a good grade."
"When we have the money available to invest in education, giving an 82 percent tax cut to corporations instead is just not responsible," said Hammel, from Genesee County's Mount Morris Township said. "We've already seen some of the short-term effects on schools, but we haven't yet realized what the total damage of the governor's cuts will be."
Snyder vetoed portions of the bill, characterizing the changes as "minor," and said he would ignore some language in the bill that's not legally enforceable. That includes provisions added by Republican lawmakers that would have penalized universities that offered health care benefits to employees' domestic partners and required public universities doing embryonic stem cell research to report data to the state, including how many human embryos are used for research.
"I really appreciate the language being put in the bills because it shows the intent of the Legislature, the things they believe in. But as a practical matter, they're not legally enforceable," the governor said.
He also vetoed $4.25 million for a special adoption subsidy, noting the burden would increase each year as more children were adopted.
The budget bills are House Bills 4526 and 4325.