State Rep. Donni Steele on Monday reiterated her opposition to the wasteful, unsustainable budget funded by an impending tax hike and crafted by the majority — a budget that fails to invest in the priorities of Michigan families.
The $82 billion budget, signed into law Monday, will require an income tax hike to pay for everything. Steele, R-Orion Township, criticized the majority caucus for unsustainably spending more money than ever before, draining the rest of Michigan’s $9 billion surplus, adding 1,000 new bureaucrats, and bankrolling billions of dollars in pork projects and waste, all while failing to invest Michigan’s resources to fix crumbling local roads and to fill officer vacancies at struggling local police departments.
“The majority yet again worked behind closed doors and ignored the basic needs of Michigan residents throughout this budget process,” Steele said. “Accountability was absent throughout the process, leaving the public and their elected representatives in the dark. The people of our state expect transparency, especially when we’re spending their taxpayer dollars. The cloak of secrecy consistently used by partisan politicians is a shameful attempt to hide an out-of-touch spending spree that Michigan residents despise.”
Neglecting broken infrastructure: The budget distributes no new funding for local road agencies to repair failing infrastructure. Rejecting the proposal for a $1 billion investment in local roads, partisan politicians in majority hand-picked a select few favored projects. Steele also criticized a glaring lack of investment to fix Michigan’s bridges that are either closed or in serious or critical condition, as the budget provided only 5% of the total needed. At the same time, these same politicians handed out more than $2 billion to their political friends and allies for solar farms, zoos, opera houses, and other pork projects.
Hiking taxes and fees: Irresponsible legislators baked a future tax hike into their bloated spending plan. Earlier this year, my colleagues and I secured an income tax cut for every Michigander and small business, but those in majority are increasing the rate again in order to balance their irresponsible budget. The Attorney General in March disregarded the clear language, history, and legislative intent of the law, and declared that the tax cut should only last for one year – an assumption those in majority used to craft the massive budget. The budget also raises fees on small businesses to pay for new bureaucrats.
Ignoring police shortages: The budget fails to invest in understaffed local police departments experiencing a widespread officer shortage. Amendments to provide $100 million in grants to help local police departments and county sheriff’s offices recruit and retain officers and obtain equipment were rejected. Instead, partisan politicians spent more than $100 million on “community enhancement grants” to help political allies fund pork projects like pools, splash pads, theaters, and a cricket field. The budget also creates a $1.5 million program to hire unarmed social workers instead of the officers who protect our communities.
Bankrolling pork projects: Partisan politicians spent more than $2 billion on earmarks. Examples of unnecessary pork projects include $5 million to the AFL-CIO, one of their powerful political allies; $3 million for minor league baseball stadiums; $9.8 million for seven pools and splash pads; almost $1 million for a cricket field; and $1 million to teach rich children in Detroit to ride horses.
Failing Michigan students: The $24.3 billion portion of the budget related to schools, universities, and community colleges, which became law earlier this month, puts pork projects over the needs of Michigan students. $2 billion was added to make room for wasteful programs in the school budget— funds that could have provided nearly $1,400 more per student to support classroom learning across the state. Those in majority also eliminated dedicated funding for school resource officers, who are necessary to keep kids safe at school.
“While partisan politicians continue to provide their well-connected political allies with unsustainable programs, they’re neglecting the ordinary people in their own backyards,” Steele said.
State Rep. Donni Steele, of Orion Township, released the following statement after a debate on bills in the House Appropriations Committee last week to increase various state fees – a follow-up move to help pay for the massive $82 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1st.
“Cramming unnecessary pork projects into the state budget at the last minute is an insult to Michigan taxpayers and a waste of their dollars. We can and must do better for the people of Michigan,” said Steele, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee.