The fiscal year 2013 budget is moving quickly through the Legislature, with joint House/Senate conference committees approving conference reports that include negotiated agreements on the points of difference between the budgets adopted by the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate. Conference reports are then sent to the floor of the House and Senate where they can be approved or rejected, but not amended. The Legislature’s goal is to finish the budget bills by June 1st.
Department of Education Budget:
The MDE budget includes a range of programs and supports for school districts. Overall, the MDE budget approved by the conferees includes $328.9 million in funding, including $208.4 million for the Office of Great Start (OGS). At $156.2 million, funding for the Child Development and Care program, largely for subsidies for child care for low-income and other eligible families, represents 75 percent of total funding for the OGS, and nearly 48 percent of all MDE funding.
There is a separate conference committee for the School Aid budget, which includes funding for per-pupil allotments for school districts, as well as a range of educational and early childhood programs such as local Great Start Collaboratives, the Great Start Readiness program, and Great Parents/Great Start (see below). Included in the MDE conference report are the following provisions affecting young children:
- The conferees rejected the Senate proposal to shift $13.4 million in federal child care funds currently used to improve the quality of early learning programs to a new line item, allowing the funds to be used for local or direct early childhood programs, and restricting their use by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation.
- The conferees included an increase of $827,700 for the Office of Great Start for funding of the Early Childhood Investment Corporation for key areas of its work, potentially including early childhood system changes through Great Start Collaboratives, Children’s Health Care Access projects, Great Start Regional Resource Centers, and Great Start to Quality, the state’s first tiered quality rating and improvement system for early learning programs. The Governor had recommended an increase of $1.9 million.
- The conferees provided $310,000 to the OGS for a study of Michigan’s early childhood programs, funding and system, which is to be completed by May 15, 2013. Budget language requires the OGS to study:
- (a) funding sources and responsible agencies;
- (b) recipients of services and related administrative costs for services provided;
- (c) recommendations to ensure that funding is coordinated efficiently and effectively to achieve outcomes;
- (d) a fiscal map of federal, state, local and private expenditures on children from birth through age 8;
- (e) the identification of programs that support early childhood learning and development, as well as the existing roles of state, local and private partners related to the delivery of services, quality improvements and accountability;
- (f) the identification of the number of children and families served and the capacity of programs to serve more;
- (g) recommendations to properly align and integrate programs and services, and the roles of state, local and private partners, including the OGS and the Early Childhood Investment Corporation--to eliminate administrative duplication and ensure early learning programs are provided in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, and outcomes are achieved;
- (h) the identification of performance metrics to be used to ensure early learning outcomes are being achieved.
- The conferees reduced funding for the Child Development and Care program by $3 million in anticipation of reduced caseloads and costs. Average monthly caseloads are projected to be 27,340, down from 58,000 in fiscal year 2007—a drop of 53 percent.
- New budget language is added requiring the Early Childhood Investment Corporation to submit a report by February 15, 2013 detailing fiscal year 2011 and 2012 grant awards, recipients and activities funded, with an analysis of the work of each grantee. The Early Childhood Investment Corporation is also required to bid all contracts for comprehensive systems planning through a statewide request-for-proposal process.
School Aid Budget:
The School Aid budget approved by the conferees includes a total of $12.9 billion for schools, educational and early childhood programs. Included in the conference report are the following provisions affecting young children:
- An increase in funding for the district Great Start Readiness (GSRP) program of $5 million, to total funding of $100.4 million. Efforts by advocates to set-aside 20 percent of any new funding for the GSRP for services for children ages 0 through 3 were unsuccessful.
- Funding for the GSRP competitive grants was maintained at current year levels at $8.9 million, with the administrative and fiduciary control of those funds left with the OGS.
- The conferees left in current budget language allowing districts to use GSRP funds for Parent Involvement in Education (PIE) programs, but restricted eligibility to families with incomes below 300 percent of poverty.
- Funding for the Great Start Collaboratives ($5.9 million) and the Great Parents/Great Start program ($5 million) was combined into a new block grant to Intermediate School Districts (ISDs). ISDs are required to convene local Great Start Collaboratives and Parent Coalitions, and are able to reconstitute Great Start Collaboratives if they are found to be ineffective.
Department of Community Health Budget:
The joint House/Senate conference committee for the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) approved a conference report that provides slightly over $15 billion in funding, with $10.5 billion for medical services, including Medicaid. Included in the conference report are the following provisions affecting young children:
- The conferees agreed with the Governor to add a total of $2.25 million ($1 million in ongoing funding, and $1.25 in one-time funding) for a new wellness program to engage a small number of local coalitions in efforts to develop innovative health and wellness programs. The conferees also included $750,000 for maternal and child health programs, including infant mortality prevention.
- The conferees also agreed with the House recommendation to add $1 million for a before- and after-school healthy exercise program for children in kindergarten through grade 6. The goals are to improve physical health, reduce obesity, provide nutrition education and create safe places to play and exercise. The MDCH will develop a model for programs sites—which can include public schools, community-based organizations, private and recreational facilities—that incorporates evidence-based practices.
- The conferees included $2 million for a new pilot alternative pregnancy and parenting home support program proposed by the House. Funds will be used for contracts for counseling, support and referral services for eligible women during pregnancy and through the first year of life. The goals are to increase counseling support, childbirth choice and adoption knowledge, as well as improve parenting skills and expand reproductive health knowledge.
- Also included in the final budget agreement from the House proposal was an additional $1 million to expand the Nurse Family Partnership program. Funds are to be used for enhanced support and education for nursing teams, as well as client recruitment in high-need communities. A portion of the funds are available for work in Detroit, including planning to expand and sustain programs, marketing and communications, and nurse recruitment.
- The conferees approved an increase of $16.7 million in the Healthy Kids dental program, below the Governor’s recommendation of $25 million. The Governor’s proposal would have expanded services to 25 percent of the 720,000 children not currently covered; the final conference budget covers approximately 17 percent of those children.
- The conferees included $21.3 million for new coverage for autism services for Medicaid- and MIChild-eligible children through the age of 18.
- The conferees included $11.9 million for a 20 percent increase in payment rates for obstetrical and gynecological services for Medicaid-eligible women. These providers had been excluded from the rate increases approved for other providers based on federal health care reform requirements.
- The conferees eliminated budget language directing the MDCH to use at least 50 percent of voluntary in-home services funding for evidence-based models, as well as develop a plan to establish an integrated benefit for home visitation services through Medicaid health plans. A separate bill, HB 5572, which is currently moving in the Legislature and is expected to pass, addresses some of the issues raised in the eliminated budget language. HB 5572 defines voluntary home-visiting services, requires the state to invest in programs that are either evidence-based or promising, and requires collaboration between the Departments of Community Health, Humans Services and Education.
- The conferees included $2 million in new funding for expansion of lead paint abatement efforts.
For a chart detailing the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Reccomendations Affecting Young Children, click HERE.