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Published: Saturday, 2/15/2003

State police, prisons expected to feel Granholm budget ax

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LANSING - Spending on state police troopers and prisons is expected to drop $10 million in an executive order that Gov. Jennifer Granholm probably will present to lawmakers next week, sources close to the budget process said yesterday.

Ms. Granholm, a Democrat, and Republican legislative leaders reached an agreement this week on the executive order. It is expected to resolve a $158 million shortfall in this year's $8.9 billion general fund budget.

The cuts include $4 million from the Michigan State Police's overall $411 million budget and $6 million from the Corrections Department's total $1.6 billion budget, sources said on the condition of anonymity.

A budget of $45 million for the Life Sciences Corridor will be reduced $12.5 million, sources said. The corridor links research universities and facilities from Detroit to Grand Rapids and is meant to create businesses in biotechnology and other areas.

Funding for Michigan's 15 public universities will fall 1.5 percent in the executive order, and general government spending will be cut 4 percent overall, Ms. Granholm said.

The executive order will cut $15 million from the Department of Community Health's $9.2 billion budget, sources said.

“I really believe that we are going see some cuts that are going to be very, very uncomfortable for legislators to vote on,” Ms. Granholm said this week after a budget presentation in Jackson.

Republican Rep. Mike Pumford, head of the budget-writing committee for the Corrections Department, said he fears cuts to the state police and corrections will hurt public safety.

“If people didn't want to keep their pet projects, like the Life Sciences Corridor, we wouldn't have to make these cuts,” said Mr. Pumford (R., Newaygo).

Michigan has 1,142 state troopers, down from a peak of 1,344 three years ago. The number of troopers is expected to fall below 1,000 by next year, the lowest since 1969, according to the state police.

The main reasons are a recent surge in retirements and the state's inability to train and hire replacements.

Todd Harcek, spokesman for Republican House Appropriation Committee Chairman Marc Shulman, said the cuts won't jeopardize public safety. The departments will reduce administrative spending to offset cuts, he said.

Mr. Shulman of West Bloomfield said, “Whether or not next Wednesday there are enough Democratic appropriation committee members and enough Republican members to approve it remains to be seen.”

The executive order needs only the approval of the Senate and House Appropriation Committees. It does not go before the full Legislature.

Mr. Pumford said the severe cuts should force lawmakers to reconsider their opposition to stopping the annual 0.1 percent cut in the state income tax.



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