For the second year in a row, Michigan has a budget surplus and figuring out what to do with it will no doubt be the subject of much debate among lawmakers this year.
Michigan’s lawmakers work year round, though their return on Wednesday serves as a marker for the year ahead. As in many other states, this is an election year for the state’s 148 legislators, so it’s possible that the remainder of the session will be less productive, with fewer high-profile fights. But a projected multi-year $1.3 billion dollar surplus will also give lawmakers something to score points over.
“Priorities include setting aside more money for early childhood education and for road upkeep without permanently raising gasoline taxes or vehicle registration fees,” the Associated Press reports. “One atypical budget topic: choosing a new state standardized test to align with national education standards being adopted in Michigan.”
In light of the projected surplus, lawmakers are expected to turn their attention to tax cuts as well. Both parties are already eyeing repealing pension taxes or bulking up tax credits for things like charitable contributions or childcare, according to the Lansing State Journal.
Some of that money may also fund transportation projects. And lawmakers are looking at implementing new classroom and teacher ranking systems, too. And, as in many other states, Democrats may push for a minimum wage increase or repeal of the state’s gay marriage ban.