Michigan House Republicans
Leader Hall: House Democrats’ budget harms taxpayers, teachers, economic growth
RELEASE|May 9, 2024
Contact: Matt Hall

House Republican Leader Matt Hall on Wednesday voted against House Democrats’ massive state budget, which raids teacher retirement funds, hinders efforts to grow Michigan’s economy, and rejects investments in infrastructure and other priorities of the people of Michigan.

The House’s $80.9 billion budget is even larger than the governor’s proposal, and Democrats balanced their spending on the backs of Michigan taxpayers, who are paying more in income taxes because Democrats raised the income tax on every Michigander and small businesses effective this past January.

“House Democrats are grasping for any money they can find to pay for their massive budget,” said Hall, R-Richland Township. “They hiked the income tax and robbed Michiganders of the permanent relief they were promised. They’re raiding the retirement funds of our hard-working school teachers. But with all the extra funding, Democrats are refusing to invest resources where they count. Instead of streamlining government to get out of the way of economic growth, investing in road repairs and school safety, or improving accountability to ensure taxpayers get value for their dollars, House Democrats prefer to waste money to hire hundreds of new bureaucrats and dole out subsidies for electric vehicle chargers.”

The Michigan Public School Employees’ Retirement System, the state’s pension system for teachers and other school workers, is currently $24.4 billion in debt, but Democrats are diverting $632 million in scheduled payments that should be used to bolster MPSERS. Democrats rejected Republicans’ amendment to invest the funding to increase support for MPSERS, which would help pay off the pension liability early.

Hall also expressed his disappointment in Democrats’ ongoing refusal to focus on growing Michigan’s economy, even though the governor’s population council made it clear that Michigan needs a “bold, coordinated economic growth plan.” Hall and House Republicans laid out proposals that should be included in Michigan’s economic growth plan last month. This week, the caucus offered budget amendments to incorporate their proposals for a better regulatory environment and more effective, accountable state programs.

“A new study ranks Michigan in the bottom 10 states to live in, and our subpar economy is a big reason why,” Hall said, referencing the latest state rankings from U.S. News and World Report, which places Michigan 42nd out of the 50 states. “House Republicans have laid out policies that will help grow our economy by reversing Democrats’ income tax hike, fostering a fair regulatory environment, and monitoring state programs to make them work effectively, but House Democrats rejected all our efforts to include some of these plans in the budget.”

House Republicans offered amendments to implement their economic growth proposals by establishing performance-based funding for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, increasing accountability measures over state-funded projects, auditing grants, evaluating the results of workforce development programs, and preventing excessive environmental regulations that would hurt small businesses and increase costs. Democrats rejected all of the amendments.

In last year’s budget, Democrats rammed through billions of dollars in pork projects at the last minute and eliminated any effective transparency requirements. Meanwhile, grant recipients have misused state earmarks, including one prominent Whitmer supporter who created a new business and then used a $20 million grant to pay for first-class plane tickets and a $4,500 coffee maker. Hall criticized Democrats for blocking Republican amendments to increase transparency surrounding budget projects. Republicans attempted to require disclosure of the true sponsor who proposes any earmark, prevent grants from going to businesses that haven’t operated in Michigan for at least two years, force grantees to submit a spending plan before receiving funds, reinstate the requirement for quarterly reports detailing the status and spending of each grant, conduct an annual audit on grant funds, and pause spending and refer for investigation any grant through the Michigan Strategic Fund that inappropriately uses funds.

“Michiganders are tired of having their money handed out to special interests in the middle of the night, and they’re demanding accountability and transparency for how their money is spent,” Hall said. “But rather than disclose details about every single earmark and block funding for shady start-up companies, Democrats blocked House Republicans’ transparency plan and voted to keep Michigan taxpayers in the dark. It shouldn’t take a federal investigation to bring accountability to wasteful spending.”

House Democrats’ budget does not distribute any extra funding to local road agencies for crumbling local roads, refusing to spend additional funds on local roads and blocking a Republican amendment to add $400 million to fix local roads. Democrats also blocked a Republican amendment to dedicate funding specifically for school safety efforts.

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