Ten other numbers to know about the Michigan budget

Gov. Whitmer’s ‘10 most important budget numbers’ left out a few items

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer offered her take on “the 10 most important numbers in the state budget” Tuesday in an op-ed for The Detroit News

As the Mackinac Center’s director of fiscal policy, I thought it would be good to make a list of my own. These are 10 other numbers to know about the 2023 Michigan budget.

  1. $7 billion: The most notable part of the state budget is what isn’t in it. Lawmakers tend to spend every dollar they have available, but this year they didn’t spend $7 billion. This money can be used to help lower taxes, or to pay for whatever priorities lawmakers have later.
  2. $17.4 billion: The budget has grown a lot since the pandemic began. Both federal transfers and revenue from the state’s taxes and fees contributed to these gains. It’s unclear whether the increases in spending have come with similar improvements in service.
  3. 10.2%: Adjusting for recent and expected inflation, the budget is still 10.2% above prepandemic levels.
  4. $6.3 billion: The total spending for next year is down $6.3 billion from current-year levels, as temporary federal pandemic spending gets phased out. Total money that was transferred from Washington to Lansing declined from $40.4 billion to $31.1 billion.
  5. 4 years: It took four years for the governor to give up her insistence that the state road conditions required the state to raise taxes. This budget finally increases state spending on roads without a tax hike, using the state’s growing resources.
  6. 3.3%: Even with increases in federal spending and state spending, the road-funding governor has not made much of an improvement in road funding. The state transportation budget is only up 3.3% when adjusting for inflation and expected inflation in the upcoming year.
  7. $2.275 billion: Amount of pension debt payments in the budget. Lawmakers have not set aside enough money to pay for the pension benefits earned by government workers. Paying down this debt protects pensioners and saves taxpayers money in interest.
  8. 149: Number of special district projects in the budget, whereby lawmakers place a specific spending item at their request. All told, the projects cost taxpayers over $1 billion this year. While there is a perennial desire for lawmakers all around the country to bring home the bacon, the way they direct taxpayer money to legislators’ projects these days is a recent practice that didn’t happen in budgets before fiscal year 2015-16.
  9. 519: How many pages it took to lay out the state’s $75.8 billion budget.
  10. 76: How many days the budget was approved before the start of the next fiscal year in October.

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.