Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Borton: Governor’s fiscal meddling is a clear attempt to ditch transparency
RELEASE|March 14, 2024
Contact: Ken Borton

Office of Auditor General faces 28% cut in governor’s proposal

Rep. Ken Borton is speaking out against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her recent proposal to cut funding for the nonpartisan Office of the Auditor General (OAG), which has uncovered mismanagement and failures in its reviews of state agencies and programs.

“This proposed crippling of the OAG is a perfect example of the misguided leadership we’ve experienced under Gov. Whitmer,” said Borton, R-Gaylord. “Normal people in normal professions have to fix problems when auditors bring them to light. Clearly, the governor believes she’s above normal people. No working-class person can threaten to defund their company if they receive a bad performance review.”

Numerous audits by the OAG in recent years have exposed deep-rooted problems in the Whitmer administration and other parts of state government. The governor’s proposed $8.3 million net budget cut to the people’s watchdog is facing further scrutiny after Auditor General Doug Ringler’s Wednesday morning letter to House and Senate leaders. Ringler explained how the 28% funding reduction would kneecap the OAG’s ability to fulfill audit requirements and could even put federal funding at risk.

“Instead of correcting deep-rooted problems in her administration, the governor would rather slash and burn the agency reporting those problems into non-existence,” Borton said. “Sunshine Week is supposed to be a time to celebrate successes in government transparency. Instead, the OAG is being forced to inquire why their budget is being cut for simply doing their job. Unfortunately, the answer is most likely as simple as they got on the governor’s bad side.”

For the past 10 years the Michigan Press Association has celebrated Sunshine Week by honoring state officials working to promote and protect transparency in government. This year, MPA chose not to recognize anyone because Michigan ranks near dead last regarding government openness compared to other states.

“If Democrats wanted to flip the script and give the state a reason to celebrate, they could start by considering a recently introduced House Republican plan to ensure the governor’s office and Legislature actually have to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests,” Borton said. “My background in county government showed me the importance of subjecting elected officials to FOIA. The public deserves to know what’s going on with their taxpayer dollars, whether that’s at their township office or in the governor’s mansion.”

House Bills 5422-5427 institute a more stringent timeline under which government agencies would need to produce records andincrease fines and penalties when they fail to comply with valid FOIA requests. The plan also strengthens the ability of individuals to take civil action when government bodies improperly withhold information.

The legislation would also create the Open Government Commission to receive, investigate and act on appeals by members of the public to responses received to FOIA requests that they feel are unreasonable or incomplete. Appointees to the commission would represent various political and media entities to ensure a fair process. The commission would have the authority to investigate complaints, issue binding opinions, and impose penalties.

HBs 5422-5427 are currently awaiting consideration by the House Government Operations Committee.


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