State Rep. Mike Harris this week again stood up for Michigan taxpayers and leveled criticism at wasteful spending that will require an income tax hike to pay for everything.
Harris, R-Waterford, called out Democrats’ $82 billion budget, signed into law Monday, for draining the rest of Michigan’s $9 billion surplus, adding 1,000 new bureaucrats, and wasting billions of dollars on pork projects and unsustainable programs, all while neglecting urgent needs. Harris, a retired police sergeant, especially criticized the lack of support for officer recruitment at understaffed local police departments.
“This wasteful budget leaves behind some of the most important needs of Michigan residents, while Democrats prepare to raise taxes — unsustainably dropping billions of dollars left and right on new government programs and pork projects,” Harris said. “Rampant police officer shortages overexert local departments and interfere with public safety, but the budget doesn’t help departments recruit officers to fill these critical gaps. Despite having a multibillion-dollar surplus, the budget also fails to invest in other necessities, such as local infrastructure repairs. Thanks to the planned tax hike, Michigan taxpayers will have to give up more of their hard-earned incomes to the state just to subsidize pork projects and unneeded programs to help out Democrat allies.”
Hiking taxes and fees: Legislative Democrats baked a future tax hike into their bloated spending plan. Harris helped secure an income tax cut for every Michigander and small business this spring, but the Democrats will need the new 4.05% income tax rate to go up again to 4.25% next year in order to balance their 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 Democrats used to write their massive budget. The budget also raises fees on Michigan small businesses to pay for new bureaucrats to investigate those small businesses.
Ignoring police shortages: The budget also fails to invest in understaffed local police departments experiencing widespread officer shortages. Democrats rejected Harris’ amendment to provide $100 million in grants to help local police departments and county sheriff’s offices recruit and retain officers and obtain equipment. Instead, the majority spent more than $100 million on “community enhancement grants” to help their friends 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 are needed to protect communities.
Neglecting broken infrastructure: The budget distributes no new funding for local road agencies to repair failing infrastructure. Instead of a Republican proposal for a $1 billion investment in local roads, the budget includes only a select few favored projects. And instead of investing the $1.5 billion needed to fix all of Michigan’s bridges that are closed or in serious or critical condition, the budget provided a mere $80 million for a bridge repair program — only 5% of the total needed. At the same time, Democrats handed out more than $2 billion to their political friends and allies for solar farms, zoos, opera houses, and other pork projects.
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. Democrats added $2 billion for pork and wasteful programs into the school budget alone — funds that could have provided nearly $1,400 more per student to support classroom learning across the state. They also eliminated dedicated funding for school resource officers who keep kids safe at school. Examples of earmarks and other wasteful spending in the school budget include: $5 million for TV programming, $4 million for one particular school roof in Wyoming, $500,000 for driver’s training at two school districts in Wayne County, $500,000 for a pool in Eastpointe, and $1 million for a wellness center in Novi that includes a “zen zone” for staff to destress.
Bankrolling pork projects: Democrats spend more than $2 billion on earmarks. Examples of unnecessary pork projects include $5 million to one of the Democrats’ powerful 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 for an equestrian education center in Detroit.
“These shocking revelations set off alarm bells about Chair Witwer’s business ties and possible conflicts of interest, and they clearly illustrate the need for greater transparency and stronger ethical standards in Michigan government,” said Harris, R-Waterford.
“Countless Michiganders carry concealed weapons to defend themselves and their families, and unelected commissioners shouldn’t unilaterally take that right away in the Capitol that belongs to the people of our state,” said Harris, R-Waterford.