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Michigan Senate moves first batch of department funding bills

Michigan State Capitol - Senate Chamber
David Marvin
Michigan State Capitol - Senate Chamber

The Michigan Senate approved its Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposals for a handful of state departments Thursday.

That includes for the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, or MDARD for short.

Senator John Cherry (D-Flint) helped lead those efforts.

He said a big part of the MDARD budget involved shoring up the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, which fights pollution on farmland.

“Trying to make it more effective in driving the outcomes that we’re looking for: improved water quality, increased soil health, and really a more robust agricultural economy in the State of Michigan,” Cherry said.

The MDARD budget passed the Senate by a vote of 28-10.

The DNR budget and two others, for the state Departments of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Insurance and Financial Services, passed by party-line votes of 20-18.

Senator Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford) said she’s proud the LARA budget plan would fully fund the Michigan Indigent Defense Council.

“Making sure that people that cannot afford the legal defense and the right to legal defense has it right here in the State of Michigan. So, very excited about that. There’s a lot of other stuff in there that are exciting for Michiganders, especially when it comes to nursing homes, transparency, reporting. But that is the number one thing that I think will help,” Cavanagh said.

Aside from outlining spending, the legislation also removes some language included in past budgets, like a requirement for state employee performance monitoring.

Senator Lana Theis (R-Brighton) said that language should remain.

“These standards ensure accountability and efficiency in serving the public,” Theis said during a floor speech Thursday.

Cavanagh said that employee review requirement is a topic for future discussion.

“This is the … beginning of the process. We have had it in there in every budget. We have not seen anything come out of it. And we just wanted to make sure that things are in there for a purpose, not just because we’re throwing things in,” she said.

Senate spending bills for other departments are expected to see votes next week.

The state House of Representatives is also preparing its own budget proposals for votes in the near future.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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