LANSING (AP) — House Speaker Craig DeRoche (R-Novi) said yesterday he doesn’t expect the Legislature to move forward on funding proposals for another six weeks as lawmakers work through a new way of deciding how to budget the state’s money.Lawmakers who support the new system agree it’s slow, but argue it will help them make better decisions for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.But critics say the change has significantly delayed the budget process. Few hearings have been held so far on actual budget bills in the month since budget director Mary Lannoye presented Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s proposed fiscal 2006 spending plan.“Generally, by this time in the budget process, we’ve done some substantive work and we’ve reported out budgets. But we haven’t done any of that yet this time,” said Rep. Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.She said the new process outlined in the book, “The Price of Government,” is better fit for the executive branch than the Legislature. Michigan lawmakers are the first in the country to use the big-picture way of thinking about the state’s finances.Republican leaders in the House and Senate said they’re not worried about taking their time on the new budget process.“It will make it easier if we can go forward to the public and say that we spent the bulk of our time talking about what we wanted the government to do with your taxpayer money and what value we placed on those things before we tangle ourselves up in dollars,” said DeRoche, R-Novi.DeRoche said he doesn’t expect lawmakers to make any decisions on spending until after the May 16 revenue estimating conference when economists lay out projections for the current and upcoming budget years. Granholm has proposed spending $8.9 billion from the general fund and nearly $12.8 billion from the school aid fund in the next fiscal year.House members recently wrapped up two weeks of goal-setting meetings that laid out what information lawmakers should consider when making spending decisions.They agreed that decisions on state economic development should be based on the unemployment rate, weekly earnings and consumer debt, and that road and transportation decisions should be based on data that rate the condition of Michigan roads and bridges, congestion and safety.That’s according to a copy of the recommendations obtained yesterday by The Associated Press. House Appropriations Chairman Scott Hummel (R-DeWitt) was scheduled to present the recommendations today at a Capitol news conference.Instead of using one bill to fund each department, DeRoche said he wants to cut the number of bills in half to nine by combining similar funding areas such as education and health care. For example, funding for universities, community colleges and K-12 schools could be combined in one bill.“If every department is a silo protected from other departments, you don’t get to see where there is overlap or efficiencies that could be had by crossing over,” he said.Ari Adler, spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema of Wyoming, said the Senate is just beginning to compile information from its goal-setting meetings.

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