Whitmer signs supplemental package after rocky first budget year with GOP leaders

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

After months of discord between the governor and Michigan’s GOP leaders, the state’s budget fiasco has finally come to an end.

On Friday morning, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed every bill in the Fiscal Year 2020 supplemental budget package. The package, which was passed by the GOP-led Legislature earlier this month before they left for the year, includes a bill that would attempt to prevent last-minute budget scrambles like this year’s by requiring the Legislature to have a budget proposal to the governor’s desk by July 1.

Whitmer, Republicans reach supplemental budget deal

“This is an important reform that will ensure our public schools know what their budget will be at the start of their fiscal year,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I’m glad that in the future, the legislature will roll up their sleeves and get a budget to my desk before their summer break.” 

The supplemental budget also includes:

  • $45 million for the Michigan Department of Corrections, to upgrade its tether monitoring system for dangerous felons and continue operating the “vocational villages” job training program.
  • $33 million for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) to maintain public safety measures, including the communication system used by first responders.
  • $15 million for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), which will fully fund the governor’s original recommendation of $120 million for clean drinking water efforts.
  • $10.5 million for literacy coaches, which will achieve Whitmer’s executive recommendation and triple the number of literacy coaches in the state.
  • $4.5 million for Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to implement its lead and copper rule for drinking water.

The bills signed on Friday include Senate Bills 152 and 154, and House Bills 4336, 4574, 5176 and 5177.

Whitmer and legislative leaders
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield at the auto insurance reform bill signing, May 30, 2019 | Andrew Roth

“This is a good deal for Michigan taxpayers that will provide essential funding for public health, public safety, and public education,” Whitmer said. “Like any good bipartisan agreement, this includes funding priorities that both parties support. We all know that this process hasn’t been easy, but at the end of the day, we were able to work together in a bipartisan manner to reach an agreement that will benefit everyone in Michigan.” 

Whitmer, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) are slated to talk in the new year about other funding priorities, including the Pure Michigan tourism program that remains zeroed-out.

The governor came up short on her signature campaign promise to “fix the damn roads” in the budget. The GOP Legislature — and many in her own party — balked at her proposed 45-cent gas tax hike. 

Whitmer likely ditching 45-cent gas tax, as ‘worst pothole season in recent memory’ looms

At a year-end news conference earlier this week, Whitmer told reporters that proposal would not likely be revisited, but said exploring a graduated income tax could be a possibility. 

“There’s a lot of conversation in town around that,” the governor said on Wednesday. “I know there are a lot of stakeholders that are interested in going to the ballot with something of that nature. I know that a lot of legislators on the Democratic side have been talking about that and something that I supported many different times in my political career and I suppose that that could be a solution.”