Passing a state budget is the Legislature’s most basic annual task. In 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder introduced two-year budgeting. Under this method, most major (and contentious) budget reforms happen in the odd-numbered year. That means new — perhaps surprising — budget reforms might be in store for 2013.
Coming into the new 2013-2014 term, Republicans hold a 59-51 majority in the Michigan House of Representatives. That margin is four seats smaller than they had in 2011-2012. Just four Republicans voting with the Democrats would now be enough to prevent passage of legislation.
The smaller GOP majority in the House might make it more difficult for the Governor to get some measures passed. This could result in tougher negotiations and more compromises than he experienced two years ago.
The House Republican agenda is likely to parallel Snyder’s agenda in most respects. However, though areas of disagreement are few, there is a real possibility for them to become stumbling blocks. Road funding could be one such issue.
Road improvement is on the 2013 agenda. Lawmakers will be expected to search for new road funding from existing resources. However, some kind of tax or fee hike could be put on the table. Potentially, this could lead to a major battle in the House. If so, House Democrats might attempt to use the resulting struggle to gain bargaining chips on other issues.
Overall, education and regulation are key policy areas over which Republicans and Democrats will surely continue to disagree in 2013.
House Republicans are expected to push for further removal of barriers facing job providers. House Democrats will likely oppose many of these measures.
It’s also likely that House Republicans will try to create more education choices for students and parents. Democrats tend to view such reforms as attacks on traditional schools.
All in all, a promising road for Michigan, but with several visible roadblocks on the horizon.