Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and lawmakers are expected to meet Thursday after sparring the past few days over the governor's vetoes cut $947 million from the proposed 2020 state budget.
“I can only clean up so much of this unilaterally,” Whitmer said at a Tuesday news conference.
Whitmer vetoed $375 million for roads and $218 million from K-12 education.
“We’ve got to put our differences aside and get back to negotiating these fundamentals,” Whitmer said, referring to increased funding for prisons, cybersecurity and literacy programs.
Whitmer advocated for additional literacy funding days after she vetoed $15 million allocated for summer school reading programs for third graders who failed state standards.
Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesman for House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, told reporters Whitmer reached out to the media before lawmakers.
"The speaker has not seen her list,” D’Assandro said. “But he is shocked she is using children’s safety, road repairs, veterans benefits and people with autism as political pawns for leverage to help her get her pet projects and a gas tax hike."
State Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, told The Center Square Whitmer’s budget was built out of “a 45-cent gas tax in Monopoly money” and that Republicans reallocated existing funds without raising taxes to form a balanced budget that included a record high increase in school funding.
“We did cut other department’s proposed budgets, but we also cut a 45-cent gas increase,” LaFave said, comparing the budget to personal finance.
“The only thing that changed is we just spent more money on roads and schools, which is what she campaigned on, and then she line-item vetoed it,” LaFave said.
LaFave said 34 of Whitmer’s vetoes targeted the Upper Peninsula and rural Michigan, including cutting $10.7 million from psychiatric services at critical access hospitals, $34.2 million from Medicaid patients at critical access hospitals, and $2 million from the state’s first responder communications network.
LaFave said all but Marquette’s rural hospitals are “medically under-served areas.”
“A lot of things that both Republicans and Democrats agree should be funded were slashed by the governor,” LaFave said.
LaFave said Whitmer’s $7 million veto for sheriff’s departments in the Upper Peninsula would probably result in two Dickinson County officers losing their jobs.
“It’s just a giant smack in the face to law enforcement, from a public safety standpoint,” LaFave said.
Whitmer also vetoed $1 million from the human trafficking victim fund.
“She’s holding the money back because she wants a 45-cent per gallon gas tax increase, and she thinks she can use this as a gun to hold against Republicans' head,” LaFave said. “I don’t think it’s going to work.”
Whitmer vetoed $1 million to rebuild the Soo Locks, which LaFave said “endangered our national security” because a breakdown would cost billions of dollars to the United States’ economy because it's one of the main trade ports to Chicago and Detroit.
That’s also the district of Lee Chatfield.
Whitmer will meet legislators on Thursday to discuss the budget.