Passing the budget is the one task our state constitution requires the Legislature to complete each year. Since coming to Lansing in 2015, I have worked with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers, to accomplish this task.
In January, we began working with a new administration in the governor’s seat and I was confident that partisan politics would not interfere with our commitment to the people of the state of Michigan in making sound policy decisions, as well as reaching an agreement on budget priorities. Unfortunately, just recently, I learned that my confidence may have been short-sighted.
The Michigan Legislature spent months building a balanced and responsible state budget. Priorities were identified and spending decisions were made early in the process. The governor had few objections to the proposal we introduced early on. In fact, it wasn’t until the last minute—a day before the constitutional deadline—that she objected to specific programs to which we allocated funding.
We approved a plan investing more in roads, schools, public safety and key services without relying on tax increases. Unfortunately, Gov. Whitmer’s vetoed nearly $1 billion of these important priorities.
The governor has admitted that her vetoes were a calculated tactic to draw the Legislature back into discussions to discuss her request to move forward with a tax increase to improve our roads and infrastructure. I cannot be a part of a plan which uses specific groups of people as pieces in the governor’s game of checkers. My colleagues and I refuse to participate in her all or nothing tactics.
The governor’s 147 line-item vetoes included rejecting a total of $13 million for a program allowing county sheriffs across the state to hire additional personnel to patrol secondary roads and $10 million for a program designed to make schools safer throughout Michigan. The governor turned down money to help public schools, kids with autism, and seniors with Alzheimer’s. She vetoed money to help workers train for the high demand jobs of today and tomorrow.
These are not Republican or Democratic priorities. These are Michigan priorities. It was the wrong call to draw out obscure procedural maneuvers in order to extend the budget process. The budget is done, and now the Legislature will move on to the policy questions that lie ahead.
While the governor continues to push for her massive tax increase to fund road repairs, the Legislature will continue to work on a package introduced last month that aims to restore local control by giving communities more discretion on how and when road funds can be spent, as well as relax regulations that have stifled road repair innovation.
The budget is done. The Legislature and the governor met the Constitutional deadline of October 1. It’s now time to focus on discussions regarding policies that will continue to make Michigan a great place to live, work, and raise a family.