Michigan lawmakers send governor rest of budget — she calls it ‘a mess’

Sep 25, 2019

MichiganGov. Gretchen Whitmer says the budgets on their way to her desk are “a mess.”

The state Legislature voted on the rest of the state budgets Tuesday, passing the school aid budget last week, although Whitmer says she hasn’t received it yet. It can take several days for the clerk’s office to proofread and prepare bills for the governor.

The budget does not have a long-term road funding plan like Whitmer originally wanted. Several weeks ago she agreed with Republicans that it was okay to pass the budget and then tackle a road funding plan later on. 

Republicans decided they wanted to put some money toward roads. The transportation budget includes $400 million in one-time money for roads and bridges. Whitmer says this doesn’t go far enough to fix the roads.

“Republicans are playing more shell games with the state budget so they can buy a phony talking point that they’re spending ‘record money’ on roads,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) says there can be an ongoing conversations about roads.

“It’s our responsibility to pass a responsible budget and get it to the governor’s desk,” he told reporters after the House finished voting. “That is what we have done today. She has the obligation to sign whatever she believes is responsible, and we’ll take it one step at a time from there.”

A big disagreement among Republicans and Democrats is whether the term “record funding” means anything. Republicans touted bills that they say put record amounts of money toward roads and education, but Democrats say the state wasn’t spending that much before and the so-called “record” means nothing.

“Let’s be very clear. Record funding is just another gimmick,” Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) said during his “no vote explanation” on why he voted against the transportation budget. “We had record funding in 2016, and then in 2017. Do we make progress fixing the roads? The answer’s no.”

The higher education budget would increase by less than one percent if signed by Whitmer, that’s less than what she had previously proposed. Democrats and some Republicans are not happy with slight increase.

Sen. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) called the budget a “failure” in a floor speech. “Our students deserve better and we are capable of doing better in this budget.”