Budget impasse remains due to dispute over shifting funds
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican lawmakers said Thursday that they were very close to agreeing to restore some funding she vetoed during a budget impasse, but a deal remained elusive due to their clash over limiting the governor’s power to shift funds within individual departments.
Hopes of ending the more than five-week-long stalemate had grown following the posting of potential votes on two supplemental spending bills in the GOP-led House. The Republican-controlled Senate, however, adjourned until next week.
Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, said Whitmer must agree to sign a separate bill that would give legislators the authority to stop a governor from unilaterally moving money they allocate. While the State Administrative Board power is rarely used, Whitmer employed it to transfer $625 million on Oct. 1 — a day after she signed the budget and vetoed nearly $1 billion in proposed spending on charter schools, sheriff’s deputies, college scholarships and other programs.
“Unless it has the weight of law, unfortunately the governor has proven herself to be untrustworthy,” McCann said.
Whitmer again committed to not using the board to shift money passed by lawmakers as part of a negotiated budget — which never occurred this year — including publicly demonstrating her pledge by adding language to spending bills and issuing signing messages.
“We have really made great ground on the supplemental and if the Legislature wants to get that done and to my desk, it can just be a matter of hours at this point in time,” she said. “One question I think is are there going to be political games still being played. I hope not.”