Medicaid Loose Ends, Road Funding Top Priority for New Legislative Session

Medicaid Loose Ends, Road Funding Top Priority for New Legislative Session

By FOX 47 News. CREATED Sep 3, 2013

While students are heading back to school Tuesday, the Legislature will also be getting back to work with a few big items on the agenda.

First up, tying up loose ends with Medicaid following Senate's approval last week of the expansion plan for Medicaid. 

This week the Senate is expected to vote again on immediate effect. The first go-around the bill fell just two votes short of the necessary 26 needed to go into immediate effect, which would've allowed the law to be implemented as soon as it was signed by Gov. Snyder.

Another failure to pass would mean the law wouldn't go into effect until April.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he expects the upcoming vote will again be too close to call as it remains a divisive issue with Republicans.

"If we expand Medicaid do we cut schools, do we cut road funding, do we cut police and fire, what do we cut," he said. "We've already cut enough, I don't want to see any more cuts."

Regardless of whether it passes with immediate effect in the Senate, the bill is headed back to the House this week for final approval before going to the Governor.

"It'll be a very big accomplishment that's been many months coming," said Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing. "Right off the bat, it'll be a home run."

And while getting the ball rolling on Medicaid appears to be the most immediate issue for lawmakers returning this week, there are still plenty of other issues on the agenda to tackle including road funding.

Jones said they'll be debating the topic this week as they try to narrow down potential proposal options.

"You can go in and ask anybody who thinks we need to fix our roads and they'll all raise their hand," Jones said. "But it's when you start asking who's going to pay for it and how that you start running into problems."

Proposals to increase the gas tax and license plate fees are said to be dead on arrival, according to Jones. 

However, proposals to expand the state's sales tax still remain a viable option, Schor said.

"Potentially one cent, one and a half cents per transaction and then moving dollars currently from education and local government to roads and then using the sales tax increase to put money back into education," he said.

And speaking of education, Common Core remains a top priority as well. Lawmakers have until Oct. 1 to figure how to fund that program.

Rep. Schor said he also plans to introduce legislation within the next few weeks dealing with year-round schooling while Sen. Jones said he plans to continue to work on a bill to increase statewide speed limits.