UPDATE: Michigan budget draws mixed reactions across party lines

Michigan
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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS/AP) – Michigan lawmakers are split on party-lines under a budget bill Tuesday.

Republican lawmakers praised the record funding level while Democrats criticized it as inadequate.

Michigan would spend $400 million in general funds to boost its roads and bridges under the current budget.

The transportation budget and 14 other spending bills which total $44.7 billion in proposed funding were expected to clear both the House and Senate by the end of today. The next budget year begins in a week and legislators passed a $15.2 billion K-12 budget last week.

These budgets are a mess. After taking time off for a two-month summer vacation and a weekend getaway on Mackinac Island, 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. And now, with less than a week until the budget is due, they’re planning to leave town for break again without having transmitted a single budget to my office. The truth is, their transportation budget would only rebuild about 39 miles on the freeway and fix about four bridges in a state with over 1,000 bridges in poor condition.

said Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a written statement released today

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may use her line-item veto power to have GOP legislative leaders back to the table after negotiations broke down two weeks ago.

The Republican budget cuts will restrict people’s access to health care, threaten our public safety, and widen our skills gap. They’ll weaken our economy and make it harder for us to attract businesses and talent to our state. This backwards plan to cut funding from our departments to pay for roads is exactly how we got in this mess in the first place, and it won’t do a damn thing to actually solve the problem.

continued Whitmer in her written statement released today

Thanks to the Legislature’s responsible decision-making, we are presenting Gov. Whitmer with a budget ahead of the constitutional deadline despite her unwillingness to participate in negotiations. This budget includes many of her priorities and she should sign it into law. I want to thank the Appropriations Committee members and other legislators – both Republican and Democrat – who worked so hard to put this budget together on behalf of Michigan taxpayers and families.

said Rep. Shane Hernandez of Port Huron, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, in a written statement released today

The linchpin of Whitmer’s budget proposal was a 45-cents-a-gallon fuel tax hike, which is dead. It would have generated $1.9 billion more for roads than is called for under current law.

An online petition that opposes that fuel tax, has over 29,000 supporters towards its 30,000 person goal.

Whitmer and legislators tabled long-term road-funding talks this month to focus on the budget, then also hit an impasse on short-term road spending during budget negotiations.

“If signed into law, Michigan would spend more in the coming fiscal year on roads than at any other time in our state’s history,”

said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, citing a net $373 million, or 7.4%, boost.

I am proud of the work done by our budget committee members and everyone in the Legislature who was willing to put people before politics and vote yes today. Even though the governor chose not to be a part of the process and hasn’t put in any work on the budget in weeks, representatives and senators from both parties banded together to do the right thing for the people we represent and get this done.

Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield says in a released statement

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D- East Lansing, accused the GOP of employing a “gimmick” to tout “record” spending on roads.

“How are the roads you’re driving on today?” he said in a floor speech. “You can’t fix potholes with talking points. … Record funding means nothing if you don’t address the full problem.”

Democrats opposed using $400 million in general funds which they call a Band-Aid approach that effectively hurts other spending, including on education.

Michigan ranks second to last nationally in per-capita road spending. Whitmer has warned that without a major investment, the number of roads in poor condition will double, from 22% to 44%, in the next five years.

All Secretary of State offices, including the Office of the Great Seal, will be closed Oct. 1 in the event of a state government shutdown.

A government shutdown will close all Secretary of State offices from Oct. 1 until a budget is in place

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a written statement

Secretary of State offices will be open until 5 p.m. Sept. 30 but customers are urged to complete their transactions using alternative services if possible as many branch offices are expected to be exceptionally busy in the last days of September.

Customers who have made appointments for a day that Secretary of State offices are closed will receive a notice of a shutdown with instructions on rescheduling.

If a customer’s driver’s license or license plate expires during a shutdown, they will not be charged a late fee if they renew as soon as possible once Secretary of State offices reopen. The department will ask law enforcement to exercise discretion when dealing with motorists whose license or plate has expired during a shutdown. However, it is up to the specific law enforcement agency as to how it will handle such incidents.

Legislative leadership is playing a shell game with the Secretary of State’s budget to take over $1 million in funding from the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Previously, they launched their attacks in state court, during lame duck, and, most recently, in federal court. Now, politicians are using the budget process to try to undermine the redistricting reform amendment approved by 2.5 million voters in 2018. We have stood up to these political games before, and we will continue to stand against any efforts to undermine the will of the people. We demand that our elected officials stop working to sabotage the Commission and instead start supporting the fair, impartial, and transparent redistricting process voters put in place. 

said Nancy Wang, Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians, in a written statement

There was some bipartisanship Tuesday.

The Senate voted unanimously for a budget bill that includes a $120 million boost to protect drinking water. The money would be used to help implement tougher lead-in-water rules, to address contamination from chemicals known collectively as PFAS, and to issue grants to water suppliers seeking low-interest loans for infrastructure projects.

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