Budget director sees tough climb to balance budget

John Nixon expects his new job as Michigan’s budget director to bring some big challenges.
    
The former Utah budget director told The Associated Press in a recent interview that Michigan is suffering because it never came out of the 2002 recession.  And, the state is still struggling to reduce its 12.4 percent unemployment rate and rebuild tax revenues.
    
While this year’s budget is balanced, Nixon knows he’s up against a shortfall in the next budget year that could reach $2 billion.  He has seen far bigger shortfalls in Utah’s neighboring states of Nevada and Arizona, and considers Michigan’s budget woes tough but manageable
    
Nixon has been crunching numbers and talking with Governor Rick Snyder about his priorities in the past three weeks.  He expects to have a budget proposal ready by mid-February.