The House and Senate are in the final days of the budget writing process. Last month, Proposal 1 was rejected by Michigan voters. This proposal would have funded many state programs through a one percent increase in the sales tax. Since the proposal was defeated, Legislators have been searching for ways to fund programs without raising taxes which has resulted in many cuts in the state budget. Fortunately, revenue expectations show a small increase for the coming fiscal year. Legislators are prepared to finalize Michigan's state budget with fewer cuts than expected.
This year, with the budgetary picture being pretty grim, our volunteers’ efforts through phone calls, emails and Lobby Day brought a victory for cancer and tobacco prevention in Michigan. The House and Senate agreed that cancer prevention should not lose funding, as the Senate had suggested, and maintained funding levels at $500,000 for the next fiscal year. Additionally, tobacco prevention will actually see a $100,000 increase in funding for the next fiscal year.
Saving these programs from being cut was a significant victory made possible by the actions of our advocates. In the final weeks of budget negotiations Community Ambassadors were asked to contact State Senator Jim Marleau, the chair of the conference committee. Community Ambassadors sent Senator Marleau over 30 emails and called his office around 20 times within several days. We believe this pressure assured our programs would be saved. In addition, an action alert was sent out targeting the conference committee that resulted in over 200 actions being taken.
Overall, it was a great budget cycle for cancer and tobacco prevention. We may not have seen the increases that we advocated for during Lobby Day, but we did avoid the fate that other programs saw with a loss of funding. Moving forward, we want to ensure that our programs don't find themselves in the crosshairs of the legislators in the next budget cycle. So we will work hard to find a permanent funding solution for these programs in the coming months.