On Feb. 7, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released his proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year. Though Snyder made some positive recommendations like health care expansion, his proposal fell flat in its suggested funding for the Michigan State Police and Department of Corrections. Instead of focusing on correctional facility spending, the governor should look to crime prevention and criminal rehabilitation as a solution. While the proposed funding for mental health courts is a positive step for Michigan, the 10.5-percent increase in funding for MSP is misplaced. Our executive and legislative branches should focus on local law enforcement rather than state law enforcement. While Snyder’s budget proposal effectively moves beyond party lines, his proposals suggest misplaced funding for correctional facilities and MSP and ignores many of Michigan’s pressing problems.
Snyder’s budget recommends $8.7 billion for medical services and $2.4 billion — a 1.1-percent increase — for the long-term care program that’s part of Medicaid. Over the next 10 years, the state of Michigan is expected to save more than $1 billion under the Affordable Care Act. This proposal could potentially reduce the number of uninsured individuals in the state of Michigan by 46 percent. It also calls for $3 million in health innovation grants for the Department of Community Health. Snyder’s proposal for health care expansion is a positive recommendation, and Michigan’s legislation should take control of the federally funded ACA.
On the other hand, Snyder’s resolution to continue funding Michigan’s correctional facilities with approximately $2 billion per year is illogical. Our state currently incarcerates 43,000 prisoners. The number of inmates and amount of funding for a “secure prison system” remains practically unchanged from the current fiscal year. Michigan’s government should use crime prevention and other more effective methods of rehabilitation, instead of condemning nonviolent criminals, like drug offenders, to penitentiaries. Rather than housing and releasing criminals without adequately looking into the root of the problem, the state should implement proactive solutions such as therapy and recovery programs.
In the proposed budget, Snyder also recommends an additional $33.5 million in funding for MSP. The funding is supposedly going to benefit MSP core programs such as road patrol, motor carrier enforcement, investigative services, etc. While it’s usually advantageous to have more patrolmen on our streets, the government needs to focus its spending on local law enforcement agencies rather than MSP. Michigan is home to two of the most violent cities in the nation, Flint and Detroit. In order to reduce the number of violent crimes in these cities specifically, local law enforcement needs to be strengthened with financial help from the state government. Snyder also proposes funding for state troopers to provide enforcement services at Belle Isle Park. This is irrational considering the city of Detroit recently turned down the state’s offer to take over Belle Isle.
Snyder’s recommendation for the upcoming budget is constructive, with approximately 75 percent of the funding going toward education, human services and community health. The governor seeks to expand health care across the state, potentially insuring 320,000 more residents in the first year alone. However, Michigan’s executive and legislative branches should seek to reorganize spending toward our correctional facilities and state police.