State Spending Up and Up, But Spending Interests Cry Poverty

Spending has increased $6.4 billion over five years

Total spending by the state of Michigan has increased for five consecutive years.

The first state budget Gov. Rick Snyder signed, for 2011-12, authorized spending $47.6 billion from state, federal and local sources. Spending increased in each of the next five fiscal years. For the 2016-17 state budget that began Oct. 1, the Michigan Legislature authorized $54.0 billion in government spending.

The current state budget spends more from all sources than ever. State spending from state sources was $25.2 billion in 2009-10 and $31.0 billion in the current 2016-17 budget.

Yet tax and spending advocates said there is a need for more.

“Michigan clearly has a revenue problem, and it needs to be addressed in a broader sense,” said Gilda Jacobs, the executive director of the Michigan League for Public Policy, in June about the 2017 state budget.

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The second largest source of money spent by the state is the federal government, and its share has fluctuated this decade, largely due to the federal stimulus spending. For example, $21.1 billion in federal dollars passed through Michigan’s state government in 2008-09, with $5.0 billion of that due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Federal contributions to state spending didn’t see $21.1 billion again until the 2014-15 fiscal year, when state lawmakers were able to spend $22.8 billion sent from Washington, D.C. In the current year, the state will receive and spend $22.7 billion in federal money.

“The state budget has continued to increase since the end of the recession,” said James Hohman, the assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “This has provided state lawmakers with more tax dollars to spend.”

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