After Thursday’s deal on post-budget spending fell apart, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday told reporters that the problem was that Senate Republicans were too “emotional.”
When asked by the Michigan Advance after a naturalization ceremony in Detroit if she was dissatisfied about the state of budget negotiations, Whitmer said, “Yes, of course.
“We had negotiated a supplemental — bipartisan with both the Senate and the House. We had a good deal going with the House and we were all prepared to move forward and then the Senate abruptly adjourned and left town. I think it’s unfortunate. It appears that they let their emotions get the better of them and it’s time to get serious and to get this done.”
Whitmer and GOP leaders were close to hammering out a deal on Fiscal Year 2020 supplemental spending, following the governor’s almost $1 billion in vetoes on Sept. 30 and $625 million in fund shifts on Oct. 1 via the State Administrative Board.
However, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) pulled back from negotiations, insisting that Whitmer agree to give up her executive powers to move money around in departments. Whitmer had said she would agree for this deal only. House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) struck a more conciliatory tone on Thursday, but things remain in flux.
Whitmer was asked Friday to respond to a Shirkey spokeswoman, who on Thursday said “the governor has proven herself to be untrustworthy” and thus needed to agree to relinquish her authority. The governor suggested that Shirkey’s proposal would go into effect “next term.”
“That flies in the face of him trying to appeal to me to amend our statute and let it not take effect until the next term because he does trust me,” she said. “So I think it’s just rhetoric. I think it’s unfortunate 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.
“The fact of the matter is there are a lot of people that are very anxious about where we are with the budget. And we’re going to be worried whether it’s another long weekend or it’s three more weeks before they come back from their hunting and Thanksgiving break. Or whether or not we find common ground eventually. I think we have to get a job done.”
Nonetheless, Senate Republicans continued to hammer the “can we trust her” message on social media on Friday.
Very bizarre. @GovWhitmer once said she was "scared and fearful" of PFAS contaminating our drinking water. Last month, she vetoed $15 million to address the problem.
— MI Senate GOP (@MISenate) November 8, 2019
The Senate is slated to have sessions Tuesday and Wednesday and the House is now supposed to come back Wednesday. Pressure is mounting for a deal before the chambers go on their annual hunting/Thanksgiving break. The governor didn’t seem to take the session days as a positive sign, however, when asked.
“They scheduled session days all throughout summer, too, and we know they didn’t come and show up into the work,” Whitmer said. “So remains to be seen if they’re going to come back and get serious. But our best opportunity was yesterday and I’m sorry to see that the Senate just packed up and left.”
But Whitmer added that the “terms of the supplemental are largely negotiated in a bipartisan way [which] is very productive. I’m proud of the teamwork that happened. … Hopefully, the Senate will stop playing political games and we can get this done.”