UPDATE: Gov. transfers millions between departments

In a special State Administrative Board meeting on Tuesday, Governor Whitmer moved around millions of dollars between 13 different department budgets. (Source WILX)
By  | 

LANSING, MI. (WILX) - In a special State Administrative Board meeting on Tuesday, Governor Whitmer moved around millions of dollars between 13 different department budgets.

This after signing the 2020 budget on Monday night, hours before the deadline, and issuing 147 line-item vetoes to a budget presented by the legislature last week.

"Budgets were totally flawed," she said, addressing the media in a press conference after the meeting.

"I had to use powers of my office to clean them up," she said about the vetoes.

There were a total of $947 million in line-item vetoes.

"After cutting $375m in one-time road funding from the GOP budget, " she said, "their phony road plan cut critical funding from state departments that we need to protect health and safety."

“We had an agreement that we were going to table long-term conversations on a structural fix for our roads," Chatfield said. "What we did is we found additional dollars in the bank account to put towards roads and because it wasn’t done through a gas tax increase she can’t support it."

Whitmer said she declared unconstitutional 72 "boilerplate provisions."

“I’ve yet to Go through the specifics on what she has claimed as unconstitutional," said Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield. "These were priorities of Republicans and Democrats across the state. Because they represent the values of the people who sent us here. So I look forward to having ongoing conversations with her."

She said that she had to veto a line-item on Medicaid.

"Not funding implementation of Medicaid work requirements would result in tens of thousands of people losing health care," Whitmer responded.

She has been getting some criticism on social media about vetoing the "Pure Michigan" ad campaign.

"I love Pure Michigan," she said. "It's a fantastic ad campaign. But at the end of the day, public safety has to come above an ad campaign."

And about cutting the $375 million in road funding, she said that was not a long-term solution to fix the crumbling road problem.

Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield, told NEWS 10 that the Governor has "yet to propose any alternative to her $.45 gas tax hike which no one in the state supports."

The agenda of the State Administration Meeting listed 13 unspecified resolutions under new business.

The meeting was quick, resulting in the approval of more than $600 million in fund transfers within 13 state departments.

"I had to make tough decisions," she said of her vetoes.

'I used my executive power to protect Michiganders public health, safety, access to health care and classroom spending

She said that she has invited leaders to a meeting on Thursday.

And that details of a supplemental budget could be expected by Wednesday.

She said that all need to get back to the table and negotiate.

Chatfield said that they are open to having ongoing conversations.

"That was our room at three weeks ago when the governor agreed to table long-term discussions on roads," he said. "Then you saw her veto record funding because it wasn’t a long-term fix. It’s really difficult right now to negotiate with someone who can’t make up her mind."

APPROVED TRANSFERS
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, $4 million
Department of Attorney General, $90.9 million
Department of Civil Rights, $1.5 million
Department of Education, $314.8 million
Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, $7.5 million
Department of Health and Human Services, more than $20 million
Labor and Economic Opportunity, $9 million
Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, $51.7 million
Department of Natural Resources, $299,800
Michigan State Police, $4.1 million
Department of Technology, Management and Budget, $32.4 million
Michigan Department of Transportation, $60.6 million
Treasury, $4.9 million

The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature, line-item vetoes and Administrative Board transfers in the 2020 State Budget. (Additional information on the League’s budget priorities can be found at mlpp.org/budget. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.)

“As the Legislature and governor continue to navigate a contentious budget process, we will continue to advocate for new revenue as the ultimate resolution. One forward-thinking compromise could have ensured that we had enough funding to meet the ongoing needs of all Michiganders instead of the state budget constantly being used to pit the state’s priorities and political ideologies against each other.

“We are glad to see the governor exercise her executive power, and more importantly, her role as Michigan residents’ top public servant, to right some of the significant wrongs in the Republican-led Legislature’s 2020 state budget. She addressed one of the biggest concerns with the budget passed last week by directing $6.1 million in vital funding to support the implementation of Healthy Michigan Plan work requirements and curtail the potential health coverage losses the lack of education and awareness could cause. She also allotted $9 million in workforce development funding to help Healthy Michigan enrollees get the training they need to find and keep a job.

“Between her line-item vetoes yesterday and the Administrative Board’s action today, the governor also tempered some of the budget’s partisanship and nationalism that had weaponized Department of Corrections boilerplate against Michigan immigrants and local governments; restored funding to help kids receive more of the child support money they deserve; redirected transportation dollars to public transit efforts, an often overlooked need for many communities and workers; and freed up $314.8 million in Department of Education funding to go to the immediate needs of our kids and schools.

“Most importantly, the governor used all the procedural tools at her disposal to avoid an unnecessary government shutdown while jumpstarting budget negotiations with the Legislature to revisit big, long-term funding issues facing the state’s services, roads and schools. We may not agree with all of Gov. Whitmer’s budget decisions and are certainly concerned about the fate of some proven, successful programs, but we are optimistic that this is just another step in the process and room for compromise is still there. Hopefully, the political will to negotiate is now there, too.”

MEA President Paula Herbart released the following regarding the education budget signed into law by Gov. Whitmer, along with her line-item vetoes:

“Aside from the pet projects and vendor contracts Gov. Whitmer line-item vetoed, there are meaningful education programs and initiatives that were also cut. Those are tough choices to make, but it is important to remember that many of those initiatives were fully funded in the transformational education budget the governor proposed back in March.

“No individual education expenditure is more important than ensuring our schools have the basic resources they need to help every student succeed. Gov. Whitmer’s initial budget earned our support because it strove to make that real change – and we continue to support her efforts to negotiate real solutions for how the state meets its school funding obligations.

“It is our hope that legislative leaders will use this opportunity to negotiate with the governor – not only to provide funding to many of these vetoed programs, but more broadly to fix our broken school funding system and provide every student the resources they need and deserve.”

Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township) released a statement:

“I didn't hear anyone running on managing the decline of Michigan last year, yet the Republican budget does just that,” said state Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township). “Talking points don’t solve real problems that have lingered for decades. Real solutions and decisive leadership do. I commend Gov. Whitmer for holding Republican leadership accountable.”

Gov. Whitmer vetoed $375 million in one-time road funding, stating it “won’t do a damn thing to fix the roads”. The governor also nixed $132 million in what was described as GOP “pork”, including funding for Algebra Nation – a “swanky” proposal that included a trip to Florida for lawmakers.

“Over half of our fourth graders are not reading proficiently, we have the worst roads in the nation and have lead and PFAS contamination in communities across our state,” said Brixie. “We have a moral obligation to address the health, safety and education of our children and these administrative transfers are the foundation for that. Now it’s time for Republican lawmakers to acknowledge our infrastructure crisis so we can discuss how we’re going to fix it. These issues will only continue to worsen if we don’t.”

Copyright 2019 WILX. All rights reserved.