As summer wears on, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appears to be growing more impatient with the state Legislature’s lack of urgency on getting a budget completed.
The Legislature typically takes off the months of July and August. For the past eight years, when state government was completely controlled Republicans, the next fiscal year’s budget was done in advance of that break. But with a new era of divided government, Whitmer, a Democrat, has been pushing the GOP-controlled Legislature to return to Lansing and complete the Fiscal Year 2020 budget.
In a series of tweets on Thursday afternoon — complete with gifs — Whitmer noted that in the 128 days since she’d proposed her own budget, members of the Legislature could have twice scaled Mount Everest or traveled to the moon and back 21 times.
On average, it takes 60 days to climb Mt. Everest. It would appear it’s quicker to climb Everest – twice – than it is to pass a budget that puts Michiganders on the road to opportunity. pic.twitter.com/u2z2H5Mssm
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) July 11, 2019
“Are these examples a little ridiculous? Of course – because the fact that we have been waiting for 128 days for a comprehensive budget that actually solves the problems that our state is facing is absolutely ridiculous. You deserve more from your state government,” Whitmer wrote on Twitter.
For their part, GOP legislative leaders have stressed that key members tasked with negotiating a budget deal don’t need to be in the Capitol and work on the budget continues.
However, Republican leaders and Whitmer appear to still be far apart on any budget deal. Whitmer wants a 45-cent gas tax increase in order to generate new revenue for repairing roads and other infrastructure, which has been a nonstarter with many lawmakers on both sides.
Budget bills passed in both the House and Senate do increase road funding, but not to the level of $2.5 billion annually that Whitmer and several experts say is needed. Republicans have said that an ultimate road funding deal does not have to be part of the budget process.
Presently, almost every session day through the end of August for both chambers is considered “tentative,” in the event that the bodies do need to vote on a final budget.
Whitmer and the Legislature have until Sept. 30 to reach a budget deal in order to avert a partial state government shutdown.