LANSING, Mich. - More road improvements? Pay down debt?
Those are among the options state lawmakers say they will explore as recent estimates show they should have a few hundred million dollars more than anticipated to work with as they finalize the state budget for 2019.
The revised estimates from the Legislature's two fiscal agencies amount to little more than a rounding error in the scope of the state's nearly $57-billion budget. But they could allow for increased spending on certain priority areas.
State budget and treasury officials are to meet at the Capitol Wednesday morning with the heads of the House Fiscal Agency and the Senate Fiscal Agency, plus key lawmakers from both parties, to reach an agreement on how much tax revenue the state can expect in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Those numbers will be important in finalizing the state budget, which under Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, typically happens around the end of May.
Officials last held a revenue estimating conference in January. Since than, higher-than-anticipated revenues from personal income taxes have more than offset lower-than-anticipated corporate income tax revenues, officials say.
The House Fiscal Agency said in a Monday report that combined general fund and School Aid Fund revenues in 2018 will be $250 million higher than what was estimated in January, while 2019 and 2020 revenues will be up by $144 million and $59 million, respectively.
The Senate Fiscal Agency said Monday that combined general fund and School Aid Fund revenues will be up $340 million in 2018, $190 million in 2019, and $334 million in 2020.
A third set of estimates, from the Treasury Department, is to be released Wednesday morning.
Republicans have mentioned state debt reduction as a priority for spending any budget surplus, while Democrats say any extra money should go to repairing Michigan's crumbling roads.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, "has always liked the idea of paying down debt," spokeswoman Amber McCann said Tuesday. "Other priorities may include the school safety items we've discussed and whether or not we want to put some more money into roads."
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said any extra general fund money should all be spent on roads. "On the school aid side, I think we should fund what we proposed for school safety," including physical improvements to schools to increase safety and addition of school counselors, he said.
Lawmakers approved about $175 million in extra road spending earlier this year. At the time, some officials said pushing even more road spending into 2018 could create problems related to project planning and a lack of available contractors.
Staff writer Kathleen Gray contributed.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.