Budget Blog 2019
As the dust begins to settle on the 2019-2020 State of Michigan budget, I want to share some thoughts with you. I believe that a budget is a representation of one’s values and priorities and there is a lot to learn from the budget that Governor Whitmer signed at the end of September. I hope to provide some insight on how we got to where we are, and what we can likely expect moving forward. As always, I welcome your comments and questions as I work to represent Downriver and Western Wayne County as your State Senator in Lansing.
Every year, the budget process begins when the Executive Branch outlines its priorities in a proposed budget. After the Executive’s budget recommendations, budgets from both the House and Senate are introduced and the Legislature takes up proposals from the Executive Branch, House and Senate to hammer out the details.
In Governor Whitmer’s first opportunity to propose a budget, she recommended increasing funding to public schools, roads and protecting the Great Lakes. In my opinion, Governor Whitmer’s proposed budget was intended to address the issues that she has consistently said are priorities. This year, the Republican-led majority developed it’s own budget, largely independent of the Governor’s ideas and with limited input from Democrats. The biggest differences were found in how to raise money to pay for roads and infrastructure and how much money should go to public schools.
Without much action during the Summer months, the Legislature reconvened in early September. There is a state constitutional October 1st deadline to pass a statewide budget, which meant negotiations, passage and adoption had to happen quickly. Republicans in both chambers created a budget, without much input from Democrats and passed it in the final days before the October 1st deadline. They presented it to the Governor without enough time remaining to negotiate properly and in a way that built a final budget that worked for most of, or all Michiganders.
One example in the chasm between spending priorities is below reflected in the graphic of competing education budgets. The one submitted and passed by Republican leadership drastically underfunds education in each of our school districts, especially when compared to the Governor’s recommended funding levels. I voted NO on the education budget because we must do better for our students and teachers. The budget that we voted on continues to undervalue our public schools and fails to prioritize them.
I voted NO on most of the Republican-passed budget proposals because they don’t go far enough for our schools, for our roads or for our communities. Governor Whitmer signed the budget before the October 1st deadline, but used some tools available to her to align better with her priorities.
She used the line-item veto to cut programs that contracted with specific vendors, totaling over $950 million in savings to the State. Further, she utilized a rarely-used procedure called the Administrative Board to move money around within departments. She and Republican leadership are still working to fund some of the programs she cut, but in a way that competitively bids contracts.
As this budget cycle comes to a close for the year, I will continue to fight for communities in Senate District 6 to ensure they receive adequate funding for education, roads and first responders.