The state of Michigan is still without a budget while lawmakers break for the summer. The legislature was unable to come to an agreement with Governor Whitmer, who had proposed a 45 cent gas tax increase to pay for road repairs.
The governor chastised Republicans for not finishing work on the budget before the summer break. “As elected officials, we all share a responsibility to ensure every student in Michigan has access to a quality, public education,” Whitmer said. “That’s why I proposed a balanced budget 118 days ago that makes the largest investment in public school operations in a generation of students. By investing $527 million in public education, my budget will help local schools make investments like raising teacher pay, reducing class sizes, and upgrading technology. Additionally, my budget will triple the number of literacy coaches in our schools, improve classroom resources for special education needs, provide more funding for low-income and at-risk children, and expand career, skills, and technical education in our high schools.”
State Representative Greg Markkanen said they are working with the governor to come up with a solution, but it may take a while. “The House and Senate wrapped up their budget plans,” Markkanen said. “It’s been presented to the governor. Right now, leadership in the House and Senate are negotiating with the governor’s team and we hope to get this resolved here as quickly as possible. I’m an optimist but it could take another month or so.”
State Senator Ed Broom says conference committees have been formed to reconcile the budget proposals passed by the House and Senate. “Both the House and the Senate have passed respective budgets and the conferees have been appointed and are having their meetings, their discussions, and sitting down with the governor’s people to try and work out many of the details so that when do finally vote on the budget, it will be one that the governor has already actively agreed to,” McBroom said.
Governor Whitmer said the lack of a budget is harmful to schools. July 1st marked the beginning of the 2020 fiscal year for Michigan school districts. “Unfortunately, since Republicans in the Michigan House and Senate left town for summer vacation without finishing their work on the budget,” Whitmer said, “School boards and administrators are being forced to make spending decisions without a clear understanding of how much revenue they will receive from the state. Compared to my budget plan, Sault Ste. Marie Area Schools in the Speaker’s district would see a $343,000 cut under the House budget, and a $189,000 cut under the Senate budget. Jackson Public Schools in the Senate Majority Leader’s district would see a $654,000 cut under the House budget, and a $285,000 cut under the Senate budget. These cuts could mean fewer resources for districts to hire more literacy coaches, purchase new technology, or repair aging buildings.”
“Michigan’s students, parents, and educators deserve better,” Whitmer added. “It’s time for the legislature to get back to work and get back to the negotiating table so we can get the budget done and give our schools the certainty they need to help our kids succeed.”
The legislature has several tentative session dates scheduled in July and August and could return to vote if an agreement with the governor is reached. Governor Whitmer holds veto power over any budget presented to her and could threaten to shut down the government if a deal is not reached.