Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the state budget on Monday, issuing 147 line-item vetoes and axing $128 million for school funding in the process.
It’s a move that means the funding will disappear if the governor’s vetoes are not reversed through a supplemental appropriation bill.
The line-item vetoes total $947 million and include funding for schools, road and bridge repairs, health care and the Pure Michigan campaign.
“The Republican budgets were a complete mess, and today I used my executive powers to clean them up to protect Michiganders,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The state’s budget is a reflection of our values, and make no mistake that public health and safety, access to health care, and protecting classroom spending is more important than handouts to lobbyists and vendors.”
Today I signed all 16 state budgets and issued 147 line-item vetoes. The budgets the Republicans sent me were a mess, and I used my executive power to protect Michiganders public health and safety, access to healthcare, and classroom spending for our children. #MIBudget pic.twitter.com/Upi6EOGD1K
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) September 30, 2019
The vetoes for the education budget include $35 million for charter schools, $16 million for equipment, $10 million in school security funds, $1.6 million for “strict discipline academies,” and $3 million for online education programs.
“The legislature is broken. Talking point budgets don’t fix our fundamental problems as a state. The budgets they passed don’t do enough to give our schools the resources they need to educate our kids,” Whitmer said. “They won’t protect our communities, ensure clean, safe drinking water in our schools, and they won’t do a damn thing to fix the roads.”
Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-107-Levering) said the budget stand off was “silly and avoidable.”
“Now that the governor’s shutdown threat has been shown to be simply empty words, the cameras will stop rolling and headlines will move on,” Chatfield said on Twitter. “Hopefully that means she will finally come back to the negotiating table and get back to work.”
This whole budget impasse was silly & avoidable. Now that the governor’s shutdown threat has been shown to be simply empty words, the cameras will stop rolling & headlines will move on. Hopefully that means she will finally come back to the negotiating table and get back to work.
— Lee Chatfield (@LeeChatfield) September 30, 2019
The vetoes received backlash from educational organizations that say Whitmer was too heavy-handed with her red pen — cutting essential programs as well as extras.
“Aside from the pet projects and vendor contracts Governor Whitmer line-item vetoed, there are meaningful education programs and initiatives that were also cut,” said Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart in a statement. “No individual education expenditure is more important than ensuring our schools have the basic resources they need to help every student succeed. Governor 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.”
The sentiment was echoed by the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators.
“Many of the categoricals are direct spending on corporate handouts, but some represent priorities that school districts rely on for operations,” the association said in a statement. “We encourage the governor and lawmakers to begin negotiations on a supplemental spending bill in earnest so that districts can go on with the school year with certainty.”
Yesterday, I line-item vetoed 147 items from the budgets sent to me by the legislature.
They. Were. A. Mess.
Here’s the thing – I don’t relish using these abilities, but I'm not afraid to use every tool in my toolbox to protect our public safety, health care, and cyber security. pic.twitter.com/KMp8b7MUAk
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) October 1, 2019
Whitmer said she doesn’t “relish” using line-item vetoes but that she is willing to use “every tool in my toolbox to protect our public safety, health care and cyber security.”
“While line item vetoes can only clean up so much of this mess, additional steps will be needed to protect Michiganders, protect access to health care, and help close the skills gap, and it will take Republicans and Democrats working together to get it done,” Whitmer said.
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