The Michigan Senate passed a budget on May 15 outlining the state’s priorities for the next fiscal year. Most notably, the budget differs greatly from the proposals Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has put forth.
The Michigan House of Representatives is working on its own version of a budget and the two chambers will have to come to an agreement before anything is it put on Gov. Whitmer’s desk.
The budget is a slap in the face to voters, who recently elected a Democratic governor, as the bill splits with most of Whitmer’s campaign promises.
Whitmer wanted to put money from the General Fund, which was previously going towards roads, into Higher Education. The reason being that the School Aid Fund is currently helping fund Higher Education, although it’s supposed to be for K-12 funding. This frees up the School Aid Fund and would result in increased funding for K-12 schools.
Republican lawmakers, however, have a different plan. Under the budget they passed, this shift will not happen. Additionally, it does not include weighted formulas for funding expensive-to-educate students, a recommendation made by Whitmer. With the weighted formulas, teachers would have more resources that are desperately needed.
The budget also includes cuts to the Department of State and the Attorney General’s office. Under this budget, Attorney General Dana Nessel would find her already-overstretched office become even more stressed for resources. The cut is less than the 15 percent cut currently proposed in the House budget.
Nessel tweeted about the funding cuts, saying, “We are relying almost entirely on volunteers to review these materials in order to file charges before the statute of limitations tolls so we can bring sexual predators who are still active to justice. And now the legislature has proposed to cut our budget by 15%.”
Clearly the Attorney General’s office needs more funding. When working on cases as important as the clergy abuse scandal, we should be giving Nessel’s department the resources it needs to do its job and to look out for the people of Michigan.
With the passing of Proposal 2 last November, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission was required to be created. Rather than funding this new commission that Michigan voters approved of, the Senate budget slashes $4.6 million from the Secretary of State budget to fund it. This violates the purpose of the proposal, which required the commission to be funded, not to strip funding from the State department. The cut would result in a 25 percent decrease in operational funding from the department.
Republicans are continuing to play politics with this budget, instead of recognizing the wishes of voters. It also seems very petty that, after fully funding the Attorney General’s office under Bill Schuette, the GOP can’t seem to find the revenue to fund the important work that Dana Nessel is doing.
The Legislature needs to do its job by fulfilling the desires of voters. The State of Michigan voted for Gretchen Whitmer and her policy platform and next year’s budget needs to reflect her campaign promises.