LANSING (AP) The House and Senate appropriations committees are scheduled to meet jointly tomorrow to receive an executive order from Gov. John Engler outlining where he wants to cut the state budget.

Engler is expected to propose trimming about $500 million from the $9.3 billion state budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The committees then have 10 days to decide if they want to approve the cuts or turn them down.

Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow (R-Port Huron) said he expects the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve the executive order quickly. He and other legislative leaders have been negotiating budget matters with the Engler administration for the past few weeks.

Not all of the negotiations have gone smoothly. Engler originally wanted to cut money for higher education, but opposition from some legislative leaders caused him to change his mind.

Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for state budget Director Don Gilmer, said trimming the budget has been a matter of taking some money from each department, but not an equal percentage from each. Overall, the cuts should trim the budget by about 5 percent, she said.

“If we move forward with this executive order, we should be in pretty good shape,” she said. “That”s not to say this won”t be difficult, because it will.”

Chesney said future budget problems are likely to be handled by the Legislature passing a bill to trim appropriations. But she said state fiscal officials are counting on revenues picking up in a few months.

“All the economists expect a spring recovery,” she said.

Engler said last week that he doesn”t favor delaying cuts in the state income and Single Business taxes set to take effect Jan. 1, 2001. The delay would bring $230 million to the state in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Engler said his proposed cuts will mean layoffs for some state workers.

The governor delayed a trip to Japan to finish work on the executive order. He originally was scheduled to leave yesterday, but will remain in the state until Wednesday or Thursday to iron out any problems with getting the cuts adopted. He plans to return Nov. 14.

The Legislature paved the way for the executive order last week by passing a bill to chop nearly $10 million, 5 percent, from the state”s legislative and judicial budgets and to take money from the state”s Budget Stabilization Fund.

The measure, sent to Engler for his signature, would withdraw up to $200 million to cover a shortfall in the state”s $9.2 billion general fund for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

It also would funnel up to $350 million to cover all of a projected shortfall in the $11.5 billion School Aid Fund in the current fiscal year.

Engler is prohibited from using an executive order to cut the judicial and legislative budgets, which cover everything from legislators” staff to judges” salaries. So lawmakers had to approve cutbacks on their own.

The appropriations committees will have 10 days to either approve or disapprove the executive order. They can”t change the order, although it can be withdrawn and resubmitted with changes by Engler. The full Legislature does not vote on the executive order.

The House is in recess and will not return until Nov. 27 to wrap up work for the year. The Senate will meet this week and then take a two-week Thanksgiving vacation until Nov. 27.

The Senate has several issues facing it besides the state”s budget problems. Leading the list is a proposal to make it harder for state lawmakers to approve future pay increases for themselves and other state officials, but DeGrow said that won”t be taken up right away.

The bill would require both the Senate and House to approve any pay raise recommended by the State Officers Compensation Commission before it could take effect. Now, pay raises take effect unless both houses vote them down. The bill also would permit lawmakers to lower salary levels.

The Senate also is scheduled to vote soon on:

_ A proposed constitutional amendment to allow the state to invest funds in the stock market. Now, the state constitution bans on the investment of non-retirement state funds in the stock market.

_ A bill to permit a tax amnesty of up to 60 days before next Sept. 30, in a bid to boost state revenues. The state would waive criminal and civil penalties for taxpayers who failed to pay taxes due before June 1, as long as the person agreed to pay the taxes owed.

_ A bill to require the state to notify a school at least 24 hours before releasing information about possible irregularities in its Michigan Educational Assessment Program test results. The bill is a response an announcement last spring by state Treasurer Doug Roberts that dozens of school districts had irregularities in their MEAP results. It was later discovered that several school districts were misidentified in the initial reports, while others were able to show irregularities were not the result of cheating.

___

The bill to take money from the Budget Stabilization Fund and cut the judicial and legislative budgets is Senate Bill 671 the pay raise proposal is Senate SJR D the stock market proposal is SJR T the tax amnesty bill is House Bill 5036 the MEAP bill

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.