FILE - Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The political maelstrom surrounding Michigan’s 2020 finally has been resolved.

The state legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer agreed to a compromise that returned $575 million the governor had vetoed previously from the $947 million budget submitted to her last September.

The legislature’s budget included $60 billion in total expenditures. Whitmer’s counter offer was to trim nearly $1 billion from the proposed budget and, using a loophole involving the State Administrative Board, transfer another $625 million from some budgeted items to others. Tuesday’s compromise with legislators limits her ability to deploy that maneuver in the future.

“I’m very glad that leaders could come together and meet in the middle and restore the funding that was originally put in the budget and we can put this behind us and continue working for the people we serve,” Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said.

Rescued from the governor’s cuts are the state’s public charter schools, police patrols for rural communities; $1.3 million in support for autism support; $10 million in school safety grants; $10.7 million in pediatric psychiatric services; $16.6 million for rural hospitals; and $2 million for combating opioid abuse.

Perhaps the biggest loser was the Pure Michigan advertising campaign. The tourism promotion program narrated by native Michigan actor and comedian Tim Allen received $36 million in 2019. Whitmer’s original budget was submitted last March, and included a $5 million recommended reduction. The Republican budget for 2020 included a $1 million increase. Whitmer, however, zeroed Pure Michigan out of the 2020 budget entirely, and the compromise did not restore it.

John Mozena, president of The Center for Economic Accountability, a Michigan-based nonpartisan nonprofit, told The Center Square he is pleased the Pure Michigan program was cut.

“Our divided government doesn’t regularly come to any agreement when it comes to economic development subsidies,” he said. “This past legislative session has been good at avoiding wasteful economic development programs, which is also good for Michigan taxpayers. They’re inefficient at best and wasteful at worst.”

Restored in full was approximately $35 million for the state’s public charter schools. That amount reflects the $240 per student increase for public schools approved by the legislature. Whitmer had let stand the increase for Michigan’s traditional public schools but vetoed the increase for public school academies.

“We’re gratified that the budget has been passed, and we’re thankful for all of the charter school parents, teachers, principals and students who spoke out on this,” Michigan Association of Public School Academies President Dan Quisenberry told The Center Square.

“Children should never be used as political pawns,” Quisenberry added. “We’re looking forward now to working together to solve the issues that are facing students throughout the state, to make sure that every child in Michigan can receive a quality education in a quality school,” he said.

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.