Shirkey ‘optimistic’ on budget negotiations, but no progress made

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

The Michigan Legislature adjourned Wednesday for at least a week — and without any movement on a supplemental budget. 

Little has changed since last week when state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) backed away from “conversations” over restoring several of the budget cuts made by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as a means of restarting Fiscal Year 2020 budget negotiations.

At issue is Shirkey’s insistence that Whitmer agrees to sign legislation that would permanently limit her executive power over the State Administrative Board, which she used in October to unilaterally transfer $625 million in departmental spending to better align with her priorities. 

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

“I remain optimistic,” Shirkey told reporters on Wednesday afternoon just after the Senate adjourned until at least next Wednesday — and quite possibly until the first week of December — unless there’s a deal reached in the next week. 

“We funded it in the budget; the governor cut it,” Shirkey said. “And we have to work through the differences, but I remain optimistic that most of those differences can be resolved. I just can’t tell you when.” 

Whitmer has previously said that she would agree to boilerplate language in the budget process that limits her ability to use the board as long as there’s good-faith negotiations occurring.

Whitmer told reporters on Tuesday that she also believes there’s still a good chance the parties can agree on a supplemental budget. She noted that her actions, particularly the transfers via the administrative board, were necessary due to the departmental cuts in the budgets she was sent by the Legislature. 

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

She pointed to the Department of Corrections budget passed by the GOP-led Legislature, saying that if she kept it as is, the state would need to close two prisons. 

“You don’t just close a prison by shutting off the lights one day,” Whitmer said. “It takes an incredible amount of planning and an incredible amount of forethought in terms of ensuring public safety. So there are enormous potential consequences if they don’t come back and send me a supplemental.”