Snyder’s higher-ed budget bump a departure from GOP peers

Capital News Service
LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder’s move to increase higher education funding separates him from a number of gubernatorial peers in Republican-run states who are proposing dramatic cuts to public universities. “We have a governor who is keeping higher education as a priority as he starts his second term,” said Mike Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, which represents Michigan’s 15 public universities. Under Snyder’s budget proposal, Michigan’s universities would receive an additional $28 million, or 2 percent, to go toward university operations. Community colleges would receive an additional $4.3 million, or 1.4 percent, in state funding. In order to receive the additional funding, universities must limit tuition increases to 2.8 percent or less.

It’s agreed: bridges need work, but who will pay?

Capital News Service

LANSING — Officials are predicting it will take $101 million annually in additional funding to save Michigan’s deteriorating bridges. State-owned bridges need about $70 million for repair and bridges owned by local agencies like counties, cities and villages need $31 million more, said Jeff Cranson, director of communications for the Michigan Department of Transportation. Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced that one in eight bridges is rated structurally deficient, meaning it needs to be monitored and inspected regularly. “Bridges are rated as structurally deficient, functionally obsolete or in good condition,” said Lance Binoniemi, vice president of governmental affairs at the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association. The three major elements of a bridge are decks, beams and supporting substructure.

Congress expands Great Lakes projects, 14 projects planned for Michigan

By Qing Zhang
Capital News Service
LANSING — Everybody knows water flows, but not many people know that the sediment below it does too. That’s why harbors need dredging, or excavating the gradually accumulated material on the bottom and transporting it elsewhere. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District planned eight dredging projects in Michigan and Wisconsin for 2014 at a cost of $13.2 million. But Congress recently allocated an additional $17.8 million. That allows the district to include eight new projects and increase funding for four of the original projects.

Old tires could build pothole-resistant roads, solve disposal problem

Capital News Service
LANSING — Old tires may pave the way for new Michigan road repairs. Gov. Rick Snyder proposed spending $1.3 billion on road repairs in his first State of the State Address in 2011.  So far, no one has found that kind of funding. But the Muskegon County Road Commission and other groups are investigating how to more cheaply fix Michigan roads with tires in a way that benefits the entire state. The advantages: repairs can be cheaper, make roads more pothole-resistant and help the state get rid of a tire disposal headache. The Muskegon County Road Commission won a $327,513 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s scrap tire market development grant to explore the solution.

Federal grant may help Michigan doctor shortage

Capital News Service
LANSING — A federal grant may be a piece of the solution to the state’s doctor shortage. Chris Allen, chief executive officer of the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, said $21 million of a $231 million federal grant was allocated to fund 85 new primary care positions in internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology and geriatrics. “Using the emergency room for primary care is not the way to go,” Allen added. The three-year grant for resident physician rotations are in medically underserved areas. The hope is that residents will stay there upon completing their training, Allen said.

Opinions split about timing of state school aid

Capital News Service
LANSING – Mason County Central Schools’ resolution asking for legislation to rethink the timing of school aid may eliminate its need to borrow money from banks. According to Superintendent Jeff Mount, proposals like that are “sweeping across the state” and should be addressed immediately. Mount said timing originally became a problem after the state switched its fiscal year to Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 to save the state money.

Museums tighten belts, hope for more funds

Capital News Service
LANSING – Arts and cultural venues in the state generated more than $2 billion in 2010 in tourism spending – more than golf, winter skiing, boating, sailing, hunting, fishing and viewing sporting events combined, a new Creative State Michigan report shows. However, the recession has hit Michigan museums hard. The Detroit Science Center closed due to financial hardship last year, for example, and the majority of Michigan museums have curtailed their opening hours. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Snyder included $6.15 million in his 2013 budget proposal for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs — a $3.6 million increase in state funding and the largest recommended increase since 2002. “If it is approved by the Legislature, our applicants such as nonprofit arts and cultural organizations will be eligible to receive more grants, awards and other funding from us,” said John Bracey, executive director of the council.