BREAKING: Snyder wants to boost state police force - WNEM TV 5

Education, public safety key components of Snyder's 2018 budget

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Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing a $56 billion state spending plan that includes modest funding increases for education and a scaled-backed call for a statewide infrastructure fund.

The budget presented Wednesday to lawmakers would increase K-12 funding by between $50 and $100 per pupil, with districts getting another $50 for each high school student. It would be a new way of funding schools.

"I think that's something that all of us, if you step back and look is a common answer that it costs more to educate a high school student than an elementary school student," Snyder said.

The budget would allocate $12.3 billion towards K-13 education and $1.49 billion towards higher education. Some said that's not enough for community colleges and universities.

Saginaw Democrat Vanessa Guerra said she is pleased however with the increase in pupil spending.

"From meeting with my teachers in district this past week, they need all the help they can get at that K-12 level. And I think that, again it's another area where I'm hoping legislatures can increase some funding for our colleges and universities, but we are grateful for the increase we see in K-12," Guerra said.

Snyder said budgeting for lab equipment and updating technologies in schools is a large cost, but he hasn't forgotten about higher education. He said it's all a part of the process.

"So there's a lot of good things that have already taken place and if people want to have a discussion I'm always open to a discussion. It's just you have to balance a budget and be balancing a budget," Snyder said.

The American Federation of Teachers issued the following statement:

“We’re gratified that the governor had the sense to abandon his plan to raid the School Aid Fund through a tax refund scheme after thousands of parents, educators, and support staff fought against it in December. However, we still have some serious concerns,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan.

“What was proposed today in regards to higher education is still not enough,” Hecker continued. “The amount outlined by the governor is still not enough to get our institutions back to pre-Snyder funding levels in absolute numbers, let alone real dollars. The mission of these public universities is to provide high-quality higher education that is affordable to working families. This budget falls woefully short of that mission and puts educators and support staff in a continued position of doing more with less, for less.” 

The plan would also allocate nearly $50 million more toward Flint's water crisis, bringing the total state commitment to $300 million.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver issued this response: 

“I’m pleased that Governor Snyder recognizes the large amount of work that still must be done in order for Flint and its residents to fully recover from the city’s drinking water system being poisoned by lead through no fault of their own. 

“I was glad to hear the governor say that it is ‘simply unacceptable’ for Flint residents to have to rely on bottled water and water filters just to drink a glass of water or safely cook a meal, and that additional funds will be needed in coming years to ensure Flint residents receive the care and services they need for a healthy future.

“It’s important that the governor’s budget recommendation includes money for lead poisoning prevention, water filter cartridges, nutrition services, and additional early childhood education and health care services for our children. Our city still has lead-tainted service lines leading to 20,000 homes that need to be replaced and a water treatment and delivery system that must be completely overhauled, and we need more jobs. We hope these important building blocks in Flint’s recovery are not forgotten.”

Snyder said the plan is fiscally responsible and would provide for key investments in education and other critical programs.

He is asking for $20 million for a "down payment" on future infrastructure needs. He sought much more last year, but the request was largely abandoned in budget negotiations.

Snyder also wants to hire 100 more state police troopers, which would bring the agency's enlisted force to its highest level in 16 years. The budget proposed includes $9.2 million to train and hire the additional troopers.

If the plan is approved by lawmakers, the agency would have more than 2,000 enlisted officers for the first time since the 2001-02 fiscal year.

The budget would also include $7 million to further secure state networks and systems from unwanted intrusion and $5 million for the public safety communications systems.

Lt. Tom Kish, commander of the Michigan State Police Flint post, said the money will help with high tech crime investigation.

"The support services like computer crimes were instrumental in the past two weeks of cases that we had in Davison Township that we had with sexting and some things going on there. And the threat of mass violence yesterday at Mott Community College where our computer crime folks really played a key role in us bringing that to a resolution without any violence," Kish said.

Police said the investments in public safety will directly benefit the community in Flint, where they said it is needed the most.

"This is a big win for the city of Flint because inevitably out of the last three or four recruit schools the Flint post always gets new people. And that allows us to deploy more troopers downtown in some of the more hot spot areas where we have a lot of violent crimes," Kish said.

The $56.3 billion 2017-18 spending plan is 2.5 percent more than in the current fiscal year. Gov. Snyder also discussed the proposed budget with the media, you can see the entire exchange here.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich issued this response:

Today the governor stated that he plans to allocate nearly $49 million to Flint, and I intend to hold him accountable to that promise. While that number certainly isn’t enough to address all of the infrastructure and health problems caused by the water crisis, we need every resource available in order to get back on our feet.

The governor indicated that he wants to spend more in student funding, but the reality is that our schools have suffered under this administration, and $50 more per high school student will still not get us where we need to be to give our kids a quality education. I’m also disappointed that there is no plan to exempt seniors from the burdensome vehicle registration increase that went into effect this year. With this agenda, the young and old continue to get the short end of the stick.

Budget Director Al Pscholka said the proposal is responsible.

"I think it's a good, solid, financially responsible budget. It's fiscally responsible. We're paying down debt. We're saving some money for the long term," Pscholka said.

To see the full budget, click here

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