In this issue of Lansing Update:
- Budget Deficit for 2009–2010 Pegged at $1.7 Billion
- Judiciary Sends Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Changes to Full House
Just one week after the legislative appropriations committees sliced $304 million out of the current fiscal year to help plug a $1.3 billion deficit, the state’s top economic forecasters this week indicated Michigan would face another budget deficit next year of at least $1.7 billion.
The shortfalls are based on lagging revenue collections, a continuing economic recession, and financial trouble plaguing the American car manufacturers. The economic forecasters indicated that next year’s budget deficit could be much worse, depending on the fate of Chrysler and General Motors.
So far only a small number of 2009–10 departmental budgets have passed out of each legislative chamber as elected officials have awaited news on next year’s revenues. It is likely that next year’s budget will not be finalized until later this summer.
The House Judiciary Committee this week unanimously passed a package of bills that would close a critical loophole created when the state amended its mandatory minimum sentencing laws for certain drug offenses.
In 2002 the legislature enacted measures that eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for crimes that dealt with the possession, manufacture and delivery of controlled substances, but the legislation failed to take into consideration those whose crime occurred before 2002 but were convicted after the effective date of the legislation.
As a package, House Bills 4918–4921 would close loopholes that treat “pipeline offenders” differently from others convicted for controlled substances violations, apply current penalties to attempting to commit a violation, allow life probation for low-level drug offenses to continue for persons convicted prior to 2002 revisions, and repeal a provision in the health code mandating enhanced penalties for certain controlled substances violations.
Michigan Catholic Conference is supportive of the legislation and continues to work with elected officials on restorative justice issues that are long overdue in Michigan.