Governor Rick Snyder unveils proposed 2015 state budget

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday proposed a $52 billion state budget that includes a tax break for low- to moderate-income homeowners and renters, a 6 percent funding boost for public universities that have seen their state aid slashed in the last decade and money to help Detroit pensioners at risk in the city's bankruptcy.

The Republican governor called for restoring the Homestead Property Tax Credit to more homeowners and changing how it is calculated so that qualifying residents could get a bigger break. The tax change would be retroactive to last tax year and continue into the future, with residents who apply first getting a refund check this summer.

Snyder said 1.3 million residents could benefit overall. The $103 million in tax relief initially would equate to about $79 per qualifying resident.

In 2011, Snyder and Republican lawmakers made about 400,000 households ineligible for the tax break as part of a business tax cut that also led to higher taxes on retirement income and less in credits for low-income earners. Democrats have pushed Snyder to reverse course on those changes, while Republicans have pushed for a permanent cut in the state income tax rate.

"This is about fueling Michigan's future in a very positive, constructive way," Snyder, who is up for re-election in November, told budget-writing lawmakers gathered in the Capitol. "Michigan is back on track."

Overall spending would increase about 2 percent from the current fiscal year, Snyder said.

He called for a 6 percent funding increase for Michigan's public universities. Their funding is down one-third from just seven years ago and was cut significantly in his first year in office.

Snyder also proposed extra money for road and bridge maintenance thanks in part to a nearly $1 billion surplus over three years, giving up — for now — on his stalled proposal to raise gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees.

Overall spending on K-12 schools would rise about 3 percent, with the traditional per-pupil grant increasing from $83 to $111 per student.

As expected, Snyder also officially asked legislators to commit state funds to help Detroit as the bankrupt city tries to shore up pension funds that are billions in debt and prevent valuable city-owned art from being sold. About $17.5 million would come from the state in the first year of a 20-year, $350 million state commitment.

Snyder's administration said the change in the property tax credit would be more meaningful to low- to moderate-income families than other tax plans floating in the Capitol.

"We really targeted in on ... people making $60,000 or less," Snyder said. "How do we get largest return to them?"

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