Skubick: Whitmer, lawmakers do budget dance

Michigan

In a complete reversal of where she was last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is now saying she’ll work with the Republicans to pass a new state budget without a plan to fix the roads with an agreement to talk about roads after the budget is adopted.  

For months the governor warned lawmakers that she would veto a state budget that did not include a real proposal to fix the roads.

But after the two Republican leaders decided to move on the budget without consulting the governor and without a permanent road fix, the governor on Sunday told them she agreed to move on the budget first and roads second, basically giving them what they wanted all along, a separation of the two issues.

At an event in Grand Rapids she was asked what happened between then and now.

“It is abundantly clear to me that there are some people that want a shutdown. It is abundantly clear to me that there are some that don’t want to put real solutions for roads on the table and be serious about this. we’ve got important work to do in keeping the state of Michigan open and running.”

Republicans contend that the only person talking about a government shutdown was the governor.

Usually in negotiations when one side gives the other side what it wants, then something is given in return.

House Speaker Rep. Lee Chatfield reports he gave the governor nothing other than this.. “the only agreement that we made was that we’re going to get the budget done by September 30.”

Skubick: “Did she ask you for anything?”

Rep. Chatfield: “She asked that we continue to have that road conversation.”

The governor was asked what she got in return.

“I said, ‘its time to focus on getting a good budget done and continue this,’ and one way or another we’re going to fix the roads in Michigan.”

It’s likely that some of the governor’s staunchest critics will argue she caved into the Republican demands.

“A shutdown would be catastrophic for a lot of people that are counting on us to get this done and I’m not willing to play games with people’s lives.”

Meanwhile, three plans were leaked, including one option to boost the sales tax by one penny.

“We’ve talked about many different solutions,” said Speaker Chatfield.

But now the road talks will wait until after the budget is done, and for how long, nobody knows.

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