Several Republican Michigan representatives are calling for restored funding in the state budget for initiatives vetoed by the governor, including the Pure Michigan campaign and programs designed to help students with mental health issues and special needs.
In a statement on Tuesday, state Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-91-Muskegon) criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget cut impacting psychiatric services for students and more than $1 million dedicated for resources for autistic students.
“I worked with my colleagues on the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee earlier this year to prioritize dollars to combat the mental health crisis affecting children in schools not just in our community, but across the entire state,” VanWoerkom said. “Unfortunately, the governor vetoed each and every one of these important initiatives, calling them ‘pork projects,’ implying they were frivolous spending measures.”
Whitmer’s cuts were part of 147 line-item vetoes that slashed $947 million from the state budget, including $128 million in school funding.
“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 at the time. “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.”
VanWoerkom said he and his colleagues are working to restore funding to the programs.
“Children’s mental health should be of the utmost importance, not only for the individual child in need but for the entire classroom whose learning is impacted by continual disruption,” he said. “This will be an ongoing issue, but I have committed to our school superintendents that I will work with them to develop a strategy to ensure that students receive the services they need.”
Another representative has called for the restoration of funding to the Pure Michigan campaign, which is designed to increase tourism in the state.
State Rep. Steve Marino (R-24-Harrison) said it was “puzzling” that Whitmer cut $37 million in funding for the Pure Michigan campaign, which brought in $2.1 billion to communities and local businesses throughout the state in 2017.
Marino is the chair of the House Commerce and Tourism Committee.
“I’m appalled by the governor’s disregard for the many small business owners across the state and their employees that prosper from investment in Pure Michigan,” Marino said in a statement on Tuesday. “It’s not a partisan issue. Every Michigan resident benefits from the Pure Michigan campaign, but the governor has made it clear that she does not share in the legislature’s commitment to the tourism industry and its role in our economy.”
Marino also criticized Whitmer’s proposed gas tax, which would increase gas taxes by 45 cents per gallon.
“This would not only be devastating for Michigan families and small businesses but serves as a deterrent for those considering a road trip throughout our state,” Marino said. “The added expense to vacationers would be significant under her ridiculous proposal. I stand by the legislature’s decision to prevent her enormous gas tax from coming to fruition.”
Marino called on Whitmer to “reconsider” her position.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Pure Michigan” by PunkToad. CC BY 2.0.