Victory leads approval of MDARD, general government subcommittee budget plans

LANSING, Mich. — Two Senate budget subcommittees led by Sen. Roger Victory approved fiscal year 2022 spending plans this week.

“This is the next step in approving a state budget that meets the needs of our families and communities while also improving our state and living within our means,” said Victory, who chairs the subcommittees for the general government and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development budgets. “I am proud of the budget plan we put together to support Michigan farmers and agriculture producers, protect our natural resources, continue important research and fill in the protein processing gaps in our food chain that were exposed during the pandemic.

“Our plan would also protect our county fairs hard hit by COVID-19 and provide critical mental health services to our farmers — who have one the of highest rates of suicide of any profession.”

Senate Bill 77 would appropriate $122.3 million for MDARD. It includes an additional $2 million for grants to county fairs and events and $3 million for local conservation districts operations, which is roughly $40,000 for each district across the state to help farmers remain compliant with state and federal regulations.

It also adds locally based protein processing into the Food and Agriculture Investment Program and increases funding for the grant program, provides $225,000 for behavioral health services to respond to the mental stress and fatigue of farmers and agriculture workers and their families, and fully funds the state’s commitment to Michigan Animal Agriculture Alliance at $3 million.

“The MAAA is a partnership with MSU Extension, farmers, agriculture producers and the state to fund and develop research programs and opportunities,” said Victory, R-Hudsonville. “For every dollar invested, the MAAA returns $3 to the state’s economy.”

The general government subcommittee approved a budget plan for the Legislature, the governor’s office, local revenue sharing, debt service, and the departments of attorney general, civil rights, state, treasury, and technology, management and budget.

“Unfunded liabilities have been a problem plaguing Michigan for too long and the issue will only continue to grow if left unchecked,” Victory said. “Previous efforts have focused on penalizing bad actors and requiring additional reporting and oversight. This plan put $50 million into a new matching grant program to reward municipalities that make pension payments above what is required under the law — thereby reducing these debts.

“The measure also creates a workgroup on how to increase access to state IDs and maintains proper oversight on the secretary of state by requiring legislative approval to use federal funds on election activities and limiting outside funding of elections operations.”

SB 82 includes $3 million in funding for the Michigan Infrastructure Council to collect statewide water infrastructure data, a $20.6 million increase in constitutional and statutory revenue sharing, and a 2% increase in county revenue sharing.

It also requires MDARD and the Department of Treasury to improve the timely processing and issuance of tax credits for Michigan’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program.

SBs 77 and 82 now head to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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