Whitmer: Senate Republicans ‘let their emotions get the better of them’ on budget deal

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Andrew Roth

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.”

Senate GOP leader Shirkey backs away from budget deal as hunting break looms

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.

GOP leaders still insist Whitmer must permanently give up executive budget powers for short-term deal

“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.

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.”

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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.
Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.