Stamas comments on economic and revenue outlooks

LANSING, Mich. — After state fiscal and economic leaders at Friday’s annual January Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference made their economic and state tax revenue projections for the next three years, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“It’s great news for Michigan families, workers and job creators that our state economy is growing and is expected to continue to grow.

“With smart budgeting and positive reforms, we’ve transformed Michigan from a state with annual budget shortfalls and high unemployment to a place where workers are in demand and we can regularly increase our investments in important priorities like education.

“Our current budget surplus is not a jackpot for new spending. We expect to face new budget pressures in the coming fiscal year. Additionally, we continue to talk with the governor about the political vetoes she made in critical areas such as funding for local roads and job training.

“This economic and fiscal forecast illustrates that we must remain diligent in how we use taxpayer dollars to meet our challenges and continue to build a brighter future for all Michigan families.”

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Stamas alerts residents of scam using fake tax debt letters

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas is urging area families to be alert for a new scam involving fake letters about past-due state taxes.

“Scam artists are becoming bolder in their demands and more creative in disguising who they really are,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “While their techniques may change, their intentions remain to trick people into giving them money or valuable information. I encourage everyone to continue to be on the lookout for scams, especially a new one in which the thieves send fake government-looking letters about an overdue tax bill.

“The new scam uses publicly available information about a taxpayer’s past-due taxes to try and trick the person into believing the letter is real.”

According to the Michigan Department of Treasury, in the scheme taxpayers are told in the fake letter to immediately contact a toll-free number to resolve a state tax debt. The letter aggressively threatens to seize a taxpayer’s assets ― including property and Social Security benefits ― if the debt is not settled.

“Although the state does mail official letters to taxpayers, they provide several options to resolve outstanding debts and outline your taxpayer rights,” Stamas said. “If you get a letter that threatens to seize your property unless you pay immediately over the phone, it’s a scam.”

Taxpayers who have received the scam letter or have questions about a possible state debt can call Treasury’s Collections Service Center at 517-636-5265.

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Sen. Stamas scores perfect voting record in 2019

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate recorded 370 roll call votes in 2019, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas made sure to cast a vote on every single one of them.

“It is an honor to serve the people of the 36th Senate District as we work to make our state the best place possible for future generations,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Even with my extra role leading the budget process in the Senate this term, I am proud to have continued regular visits with constituents throughout the district and to have also not missed a single vote this year on their behalf.”

According to information on MichiganVotes.org, Michigan’s senators and representatives missed a combined 768 recorded roll call votes in 2019.

Stamas was one of 24 senators and 76 representatives who did not miss any votes in 2019. A full recording of missed votes is available at www.MichiganVotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx.

“My commitment to the residents of northern and mid-Michigan is to continue to work tirelessly to improve our state and our region for families, workers and job creators,” Stamas said.

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Szymanski memorial highway dedicated

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas and Rep. Annette Glenn on Friday joined friends and family of Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Szymanski at a dedication ceremony for a new memorial highway named in Szymanski’s honor.

In November, the governor signed House Bill 4485, sponsored by Glenn, designating the portion of U.S. 10 from Jefferson Avenue to Bay City Road in Midland as the “Marine Lance Corporal Steven J. Szymanski Memorial Highway.”

“Lance Corporal Szymanski answered the call to service and made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country,” said Stamas, R-Midland, who sponsored a similar bill in the Senate. “I want to thank everyone who came out on a cold day to remember Steven, celebrate his life and express our deep appreciation for his service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation.”

Szymanski was a 2008 graduate of Midland High School. After earning his associate degree in criminal justice, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013 and was killed while on duty during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2014. He is survived by his parents, John and Dawn, and sister Ashlie.

“Seeing our community come together today to ensure we never forget the sacrifices made by Lance Corporal Steven J. Szymanski was so moving,” said Glenn, R-Midland. “I hope that each person who drives on the Marine Lance Corporal Steven J. Szymanski Memorial Highway will take a moment to remember his life and the sacrifices made by him and his family.”

The ceremony at the Midland County Road Commission facility in Sanford dedicated one of two signs that will designate the memorial highway.

The memorial highway will have no fiscal impact on the state or local government. Under state law, the Michigan Department of Transportation can place markers indicating the name of a memorial highway only when sufficient private contributions are received to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining the markers.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Photowire.

Szymanski parents support Stamas’ memorial highway bill

LANSING, Mich. — The parents of Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Szymanski testified on Wednesday in support of Sen. Jim Stamas’ legislation to permanently honor their son, who was killed while on duty during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2014.

“It is importation we always remember that we enjoy the freedom we have today because of patriots like Marine Lance Corporal Szymanski,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “They answered the call to service and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our way of life. This memorial highway would be a lasting tribute of our deep appreciation for his service and his sacrifice.”

Senate Bill 280 would designate a portion of U.S. 10 from Jefferson Avenue to Bay City Road in Midland as the “Marine Lance Corporal Steven J. Szymanski Memorial Highway.”

Szymanski was a 2008 graduate of Midland High School. After earning his associate degree in criminal justice, Szymanski enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013. He is survived by his parents, John and Dawn, and sister Ashlie.

After hearing from Szymanski’s parents, the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved SB 280, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, has sponsored a similar bill in the House of Representatives.

The bill would have no fiscal impact on the state or local government. Under state law, the Michigan Department of Transportation can place markers indicating the name of a memorial highway only “when sufficient private contributions are received to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining those markers.”

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Stamas comments on budget process reforms, finalizing bills to restore many of governor’s cuts

LANSING, Mich. — After the Michigan Senate on Tuesday sent the governor legislation to make important budget process reforms and restore more than $570 million of her fiscal year 2020 budget vetoes and transfers, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, issued the following statement:

“The agreement outlined in these supplemental budget bills restores over half a billion dollars in critical funding for law enforcement, hospitals, local governments, college students, children in charter and rural schools, and more.

“It’s not a full restoration of the governor’s vetoes and transfers, but it’s a positive step forward for Michigan families — and budget talks on other priorities will continue in the New Year.

“In the wake of the governor’s cuts and use of an administrative board to transfer over $600 million, these government budget reforms will preserve reliability and oversight in the budget process and restore balance in the funding transfer process.

“I want to thank all the families in Northern Michigan who took the time to reach out to the governor and let her know about the impact her cuts were going to have on their communities and their children.”

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Senate approves Stamas’ bills to restore many of governor’s budget cuts

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas’ legislation to restore more than $570 million of the governor’s fiscal year 2020 budget vetoes and transfers.

“These supplemental budget bills would restore many of the critical funding line-item vetoed and transferred by the governor in October,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This will restore funding to treat Alzheimer’s, autism, and opioid addiction; support local law enforcement and hospitals and local governments; provide scholarships promised to college students; teach children in charter and rural schools; investigate child abuse and protect foster care programs.”

Senate Bills 376 and 377 would restore a total of $573.5 million of the governor’s nearly $950 million in line-item vetoed funding and her $625 million in administrative funding transfers.

“While this does not restore all of the governor’s vetoes and transfers, it is a good first step in the right direction,” Stamas said. “It is my hope this is the last time any of these programs are caught in the political crossfire.”

The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Photowire.

Photo caption: Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland, details Senate Bills 376 and 377, which would restore a total of $573.5 million of the governor’s nearly $950 million in line-item vetoed funding and her $625 million in administrative funding transfers.

Szymanski memorial highway bill soon heading to governor

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved House legislation to permanently honor Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Szymanski, who was killed while on duty during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 2014.

“I proudly supported this measure to show our deep appreciation for the service and sacrifice of Lance Corporal Steven Szymanski,” said Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, who sponsored a similar bill in the Senate. “Lance Corporal Szymanski answered the call to service and made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. Once signed by the governor, this tribute will honor the memory of a native soldier who never returned home and remind us all about the true price of freedom.”

House Bill 4485, sponsored by Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, would designate a portion of U.S. 10 from Jefferson Avenue to Bay City Road in Midland as the “Marine Lance Corporal Steven J. Szymanski Memorial Highway.”

The bill has been returned to the House to be enrolled and sent to the governor.

Szymanski was a 2008 graduate of Midland High School. After earning his associate degree in criminal justice, Szymanski enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013. He is survived by his parents, John and Dawn, and sister Ashlie.

Szymanski’s parents spoke in June before the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in support of Stamas’ bill.

HB 4485 would have no fiscal impact on the state or local government. Under state law, the Michigan Department of Transportation can place markers indicating the name of a memorial highway only “when sufficient private contributions are received to completely cover the cost of erecting and maintaining those markers.”

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Stamas ‘extremely disappointed’ with governor’s cuts

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Thursday said the governor’s $947 million in line-item vetoes from the fiscal year 2020 budget put public safety and public health at risk.

“Although I’m happy the governor signed the budget with increased funding for K-12 education and drinking water protections, I am extremely disappointed with her nearly $1 billion in line-item vetoes,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “We delivered a responsible and balanced state budget on time that increased funding for roads and schools, and she virtually gutted it because it doesn’t include her massive $2.5 billion tax hike on Michigan families.

“The governor’s reckless, punitive and partisan actions jeopardize public safety and public health, especially in our rural communities.”

Upon signing the state budget, the governor issued a historic 147 line-item vetoes to cut nearly $950 million in funding approved by the Legislature, including:
• $375 million in additional road funding;
• $128 million from the K-12 school aid budget;
• $15 million in grants to local airports for PFAS and emerging contaminants;
• $34 million for mostly rural critical access hospitals;
• $17.5 million to train doctors needed in underserved rural communities;
• $16.6 million for rural hospitals that are the sole option in their communities;
• $8 million for OB-GYN services at rural hospitals;
• $13 million for county sheriff secondary road patrols; and
• $27 million in payments to rural communities in lieu of taxes on state-owned land.

The governor also eliminated funding for the Pure Michigan tourism promotion program, the Going Pro job training program and the county jail reimbursement program.

The governor also used the State Administrative Board — made up of four statewide elected officials and select department heads — to transfer $625 million around in various departments.

“Members of the Senate and House Appropriations committees spent a tremendous amount of time putting together a smart budget for all Michigan families and job providers,” Stamas said. “Unfortunately, the governor walked out of the budget talks, cut nearly $1 billion on her own, and then circumvented our co-equal system of government by taking the unprecedented action of using an administrative board to move $625 million without legislative or public input.”

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Legislature sends FY 2020 budget to governor

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas on Tuesday voted to send the governor a balanced fiscal year 2020 budget that increases investments in key priorities while living within the state’s means.

“We owe it to the people of Michigan to deliver a responsible state budget on time that will help improve our state for families, workers and job creators. That’s what we’re doing,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This budget funds vital services while increasing funding for roads, schools and water protection to record levels — without depending on a massive $2.5 billion tax hike on Michigan families.”

Senate Bill 149 would invest $5.4 billion in transportation in FY 2020, an increase of more than $2 billion since FY 2010.

Last week, the Legislature finalized the school budget. House Bill 4242 would invest more than $15.2 billion in K-12 education, a boost of over $2.2 billion in school funding since FY 2011.

“We need to invest more in our schools and our roads, and this budget increases school support by nearly $400 million and boosts funding by $400 million to help improve local roads and bridges,” Stamas said. “Discussions will continue with the governor on how to fund our roads over the long term, but today we fulfilled our responsibility to the people of Michigan and enacted a balanced budget on time — using resources we currently have.

“As road funding talks continue, I respectfully request the governor to sign this smart budget and keep Michigan open for businesses.”

The budget bills given final legislative approval on Tuesday would invest $120 million in drinking water protections, increase funding to local governments, train more state troopers and corrections officers, assist efforts to respond to public health hazards, and fund programs that support rural hospitals and help improve access to OB-GYN services in rural areas.

Under HB 4242, schools would see a foundation allowance boost of between $120 and $240 per pupil, $522 million invested to help at-risk students, a $21.5 million increase in career and technical education funding, and a $60 million increase for special education.

The budget bills will be presented to the governor this week. The bills are SBs 134, 137-139, 141, 144, 147 and 149 and HBs 4229, 4231, 4232, 4236, 4238, 4239, 4241 and 4242.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorJimStamas.com/Photowire.