By state Rep. Joe Bellino, of Monroe
The leaves are changing colors as we head into the peak of fall, but many people are seeing red after learning about the governor’s vetoes and the sheer amount of funding she is raking away from people throughout southeastern Michigan and across the state.
Her vindictive, line-item vetoes to the bipartisan, Legislature-approved state budget plan – 147 in total – slash roughly $1 billion in funding to essential services, hurting real people in Monroe and Wayne counties. Through ultimatums and an unwillingness to work with the Legislature during budget negotiations, the governor closed the door on our military heroes, students and education programs, children with autism, clean drinking water and people dealing with substance abuse.
The governor has decided to play politics with the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands as if it were a game, all to tax hard-working Michigan families $6 to $10 more each time they fill up at the gas pump. A true leader wouldn’t use people as political pawns. It’s for this reason I am deeply disappointed in our governor, who somehow believes this is a respectable way to govern.
To put it in full perspective, the harm Gov. Whitmer is causing includes:
- Issuing $128 million in cuts from the school aid fund, hurting kids attending our communities’ public charter schools and taking vital resources away from other various school programs. Another $10 million was wiped that would’ve gone toward improving school safety in local school districts.
- Deleting $23 million in career and technical education programs, classrooms and equipment for Michigan’s K-12 schools. The governor also eliminated over $37 million in funding for the Going Pro program, an initiative that helps train more workers for good-paying, high demand skilled trade careers.
- Cutting $750,000 to assist with the construction of a housing development for Andy’s Angels, a non-profit treatment center dedicated to supporting those who suffer from opioid abuse and addiction. The governor removed this funding despite attending the groundbreaking ceremony six months prior in April. She removed another $600,000 to assist high school students recovering from substance abuse.
- Slashing $4 million from the County Veteran Service Fund, which helps accredited county service officers connect with veterans in need of assistance when navigating the heavily complex VA system.
- Rejecting $15 million to monitor drinking water systems for PFAS and other hazardous contaminants.
- Eliminating funding to support children with autism. The governor took away more than $1 million for navigation systems designed to help families find services.
A state budget exists to fund more than just Michigan’s road repairs. Holding public programs and services people depend on hostage to force her 45-cent per gallon gas tax increase sets a dangerous precedent, and our communities will be harmed by the fallout from these cuts.
Although the new fiscal year has already begun, I remain hopeful. Seasons change and so can people. It’s not too late for our governor to reverse course. I welcome her with open arms to come back to the negotiating table and work with the Legislature on adequately addressing priorities the taxpayers of Michigan demand their elected officials to fund.