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Whitmer signs budget deal, vetoes money for anti-abortion efforts

In a pool photo provided by the Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich., on Monday.
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP
The governor also declared that language to prohibit universities and local governments from issuing COVID-19 orders to be unenforceable.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed the final bills of a budget deal with the Legislature in time to meet the deadline of Friday, when the state’s new fiscal year begins.

The Democratic governor praised the budget as a bipartisan agreement that will spend more on childcare, roads, dam safety and other infrastructure, and job training.

“You would think in these moments that we can’t find common ground on anything and yet we were able to on the priorities that are in this budget, making critical investments in the kitchen table issues that Michigan families, Michigan businesses are confronting every single day,” she said.

But there was some partisan controversy, as the governor also vetoed line items in the budget, including provisions that would make it harder for women to access abortions.

“While we see some other states pursuing some extreme and regressive bans that puts lives at risk and criminalize health care providers for just doing their jobs, for as long as I am governor, I am going to prevent that from happening in Michigan,” she said. GOP leaders were not present at the bill signing ceremony.

Whitmer also declared unenforceable language that would prohibit local governments from issuing COVID-19 emergency orders. But she did not specifically veto that provision.

One of her vetoed line-items would have funded efforts to promote alternatives to abortion, which she said is an attack on women’s reproductive rights.

These bills will ensure the state government and public universities continue to operate without a budget standoff. But there is still several billion dollars in COVID-19 recovery money to be spent that will require another bipartisan deal with big consequences.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.