Despite GOP Dominance, Michigan Budget Keeps Growing by Billions
State budget has increased by $2.7 billion with a Republican Governor and GOP-controlled legislature
When Republicans swept control of the Michigan House, Senate and Governor's office in a November 2010 electoral "trifecta," the national media took notice.
In early 2011, the New York Times wrote a story titled: “Michigan Governor Proposes Budget Cuts and Lower Taxes.”
However, in four years of Republican governance under Gov. Rick Snyder with GOP majorities in both the House and Senate, state spending from state taxes and fees has increased by $2.7 billion. The overall budget (including federal dollars) has spiked by $4.7 billion.
In the first budget enacted under GOP control in 2011-12, state spending from state sources rose $1.1 billion from former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s last budget, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. Nevertheless, total spending fell about $500 million due to the loss of $2.2 billion in federal "stimulus" funds.
In that 2011-12 budget, state spending (no federal dollars) stood at $27.3 billion; it has increased to $30.0 billion in the current 2014-15 budget. Total spending (including federal money) has increased from $47.6 billion to $52.3 billion over that same span, which now includes four annual budgets.
Many grass roots activists are unhappy.
“We worked ourselves to death at our own personal expense to get them to the position where they can stop this,” said Sheri La Fave-Wiggins, a member of the Onaway Tea Party. “And what did they do? They just continued on business as usual. … We did not elect them to continue on the Democratic path to spending us into oblivion. We elected them to stop the madness. I am so disappointed.”
According to James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the economy is a larger driver of spending increases than changes in tax policy.
Overall, Michigan residents are earning more and are buying more things so the sales and use and income taxes are increasing, giving those Republican-controlled appropriations committees more wealth to distribute, Hohman said.
“This shows that Lansing has more money to spend than ever before,” Hohman said.
The GOP-controlled legislature wants to spend even more. Politicians in Lansing recently passed a proposal that would hike Michigan's sales tax to spend more on roads, education, and the low-income. The ballot proposal goes before voters on May 5, 2015.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.