Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican lawmakers were nearing a deal last week to restore more than $900 million in funding previously vetoed by the governor before negotiations broke down.
Whitmer used her line-item veto privileges to nix nearly $1 billion in funding for various state programs when the 2020 budget was sent to her desk in early October. She also used her State Administrative Board powers to move around another $600 million between 13 different departments.
The governor was explicit about her strategy – she targeted many Republican districts and causes in her vetoes in order to force Republicans to agree to her budget priorities.
The impasse was nearly resolved Thursday when Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirley (R-Clarklake) and House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) met with Whitmer. The sticking point for Republicans continues to be Whitmer’s refusal to limit her own executive privileges, specifically the State Administrative Board powers, which allow the governor to move funding between state agencies without legislative approval.
Whitmer remains opposed to signing any bill that limits her executive powers, but has pledged not to use her powers to reallocate funding going forward. Republicans don’t believe her.
“Can the people of Michigan trust Gretchen Whitmer not to break her promises?” the Michigan Republican Party asked in a press release in the latest attack on the governor.
Michigan Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have published dozens of tweets highlighting the harmful effects of Whitmer’s vetoes and launched a website seeking feedback from their constituents.
Hospitals. Schools. Farms. We asked how @GovWhitmer's vetoes are harming Michigan residents. Here are some of your responses.
— MI Senate GOP (@MISenate) November 8, 2019
“History shows Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cannot be trusted,” said Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox, who previously said Whitmer “couldn’t run a Lemonade stand.”
“As a candidate for governor, Gretchen Whitmer made dozens of promises to the people of Michigan. These promises have since been broken in Governor Whitmer’s quest to impose a 45-cent gas tax that Michiganders don’t want,” Cox continued. “She has lied to our state’s most vulnerable citizens and held them hostage in a crisis of her own making. If Whitmer wants to restore her credibility, she must do the honorable thing and limit these controversial powers which have come under the criticism of both political parties.”
Whitmer dismissed the criticisms Monday when speaking with Michigan Public Radio.
“I think it’s just rhetoric,” she said. “I think it’s unfortunate that they let their emotions get the better of them, and I think it’s really important that we stay focused on the task at hand.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Governor Gretchen Whitmer” by Gretchen Whitmer.