Bumpy Road Continued

release. The contentious issues of road funding would temporarily be put aside in order to complete the budget. This comradery did not last a full month. Legislators stated the governor had walked away from the budget process on September 11 and never returned.

As the October 1 deadline loomed, the House and the Senate began passing budget bills sending 16 budget bills to the governor for her signature. Governor Whitmer signed the 16 bills, but line-item vetoed 147 expenditures totaling nearly one billion dollars to “protect Michiganders public health and safety, access to healthcare and classroom spending for our children.” Nearly $322 million of Governor Whitmer’s $941 million in line-item vetoes came from the Department of Health and Human Services budget. Her vetoes included:

• $37 million Pure Michigan’s entire budget

• $128 million from the school aid budget

• $13.1 million for secondary road patrol programs

• $38 million in higher education tuition grants for independent and private colleges

• $150,000 in student services for students who are pregnant and parenting

• $40 million in payments to hospitals and millions more in rate increases for pediatric psychiatrists, neonatologists, and private duty nurses

• $1.1 million in autism funding • $27 million chopped from a program that makes payments in lieu of taxes to county governments for state-owned land

• $10 million from the Rural Jobs and Capital Investment Fund

• $1 million for county fairs and exhibitions

• $15 million in grants to municipal airports to combat PFAS (per-and polyflouroalkyl substances)

• $375 million in additional road funding

The governor then used the State Administrative Board to reallocate $625 million within state departments to reflect her priorities which had been rejected by the Legislature; a move which further inflamed the situation.

Although the vetoes of these programs were intended to force the Legislature back to the table, the responses from both the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House pointed out the Legislature had fulfilled its constitutional obligations to send the Governor a balanced budget by October 1st, saying “The budget is done.” A translation might be “We funded them. You vetoed the funding. Don’t expect us to save you from yourself.”

At the time this column was being typed it appears most of the line-item vetoes (with the exception of Pure Michigan) will be partly or fully restored. The sticking point is restricting the ability of a governor to use the State Administrative Board to bypass the Legislature’s decision on where, and for what, tax dollars are

appropriated. l