Michigan Politicians Divided on How to Spend Budget Surplus

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After weeks of speculation, State Budget Director John Nixon has said Michigan's budget surplus is going to total approximately $633 million, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Since the announcement, various groups, including educators and social service providers, have indicated this is Gov. Rick Snyder's opportunity to give back some of the massive funding cuts he issued in last year's budget. Snyder's office has so far refused to confirm any plans for the extra money.

Here are some of the details surrounding Michigan's budget surplus.

* The projected surplus, which will be available to the state after Oct. 1, will be largely due to increased revenue from income taxes, including a newly instituted tax on pensions, and sales taxes.

* The original projections for the surplus in December indicated the amount could total well more than $800 million, according to the Associated Press.

* That number was being more conservatively estimated at $735 million by the first week of January, according to Bloomberg.

* Nixon arrived at the lower $633 million estimate after holding a revenue-estimating conference in Lansing on Friday. The last revenue-estimating conference was held in May.

* The state also has a one-time surplus of $457 million left over from the budget year that ended in September.

* On Saturday the Huffington Post reported the actual amount of the surplus will be finalized when the state releases its official accounting records in March.

* State Democrats and Republicans are reportedly split on what to do with the surplus. Republicans have said Michigan should not rush to put the money back into programs. State Democrats have said the surplus should be put back into the state's education funding.

* There are pockets of seeming agreement among the state's politicians. State Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, spoke to the Jackson Citizen Patriot about plans for the surplus on Friday. Like many Democrats have stated, he said he supports putting the money back into education. He also supports boosting state police.

* In a separate piece by the Jackson Citizen Patriot, State Rep. Earl Poleski, R-Spring Arbor Township, took a similar stance to the majority of the state's GOP leaders, saying it would be wiser for the state to wait to spend its first budget surplus in years.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.

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