The Senate Licensing & Regulatory Affairs subcommittee reported Senate Bill 860, the LARA Department budget last week. This budget contains the funding for fire protection grants to local units hosting state buildings and the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission reimbursement grants for local governments that serve as their court funding units.
In response to our request, the Senate subcommittee version included a “placeholder” for fire protection grant funding, to ensure that these grants continue to be funded as new revenue sources are being considered. The current fund source for these grants has been the driver responsibility fee program, which is set to be eliminated this year. The Governor has proposed using dollars set aside for personal property tax reimbursements that are not needed to cover the 100% reimbursements of PPT loss as the new source for funding and increasing fire protection grants. This new fund source proposal will require legislation outside of the budget process, however.
The Governor’s original recommendation for the LARA budget also proposed significant changes to the reimbursement formula for funding local costs incurred to comply with the new Indigent Defense Commission standards. The League is actively opposing the proposed changes as they would shift much of this cost burden onto those local governments that serve as the funding unit for their courts. While the House version of the LARA budget (HB 5574) did not endorse the Governor’s proposal, it did retain funding levels that are based upon the proposed reimbursement scheme. The Senate version eliminated the questionable fund source and inserted language reiterating that reimbursement for these new costs is a responsibility of the state. We continue to work with legislators in the House and Senate to ensure that the final budget version does not impose an unfunded mandate on those local units responsible for funding their local court system.
All budgets are scheduled for consideration by the full House and Senate Appropriations committees before the end of this month.
Chris Hackbarth is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 and [email protected].