State Rep. James Lower, of Greenville, this week joined colleagues in the Michigan Legislature in giving final approval to a plan restoring budget funding vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this year.
Also approved were plans protecting residents in upcoming budget years through procedural changes to the State Administrative Board and a new established date for lawmakers to pass and present appropriations bills.
“This whole process brought about the need for some permanent safeguards as we head into future budget planning periods,” Lower said. “This process can run more smoothly and I feel we have sent a plan to the governor that helps accomplish that, while also re-establishing funding for services people across the state and in central Michigan rely on every day.”
Nearly $1 billion in Legislature-approved funding was wiped through 147 line-item vetoes before the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. But the nearly $600 million in restored funding protects children, veterans, public safety and communities throughout the state.
Almost $15 million will be restored within the county jail reimbursement fund, paid to local counties in exchange for agreeing to house people in county jails who would normally be sent to state prisons.
Secondary road patrol programs throughout the state will also be funded within the proposal. The program, which had funding cut entirely through the governor’s moves, will mean safer neighborhood streets and eliminate likely layoffs for some deputies had local sheriff’s offices not been supported with the critical state funding measure.
There will also be fundamental changes going forward in the state budget structure, under the proposal. The Legislature would be notified if the State Administrative Board seeks to move money within a department. The Legislature would then have a minimum of six session days to approve the transfers, adding additional checks and balances while allowing the public to receive the planned changes and provide input to their elected officials.
“This is similar to what the Legislature can already do for executive orders, so it makes sense to extend this provision to State Administrative Board transfers,” Lower said. “With split government, both sides were dealt an interesting hand for this budget. Regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican holds the governor’s office, we can put in some measures that ensure more authority is available for the people through their representatives as opposed to just one individual holding a pen at the end – especially when we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.”
The proposals now advance to the governor for review and expected signature.