Michigan lawmakers submitted 16 department bills for the 2020 state budget totaling $59.9 billion on Friday to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who will decide if the state government partially shuts down at some point this week.
Whitmer emailed state workers Friday rescinding her notice to prepare them for a temporary government shutdown Tuesday.
“There will be no temporary layoffs beginning at 12:01 AM on October 1 as a result of a government shutdown,” Whitmer’s email said. “You should report for work at your regularly scheduled time.”
Additionally: “The Governor and the State Budget Office staff will be working around the clock this weekend to finish getting all the budgets ready. The Governor will be exercising the powers that she can to get our budget into the best possible shape with what has been presented.”
Whitmer told reporters on Sept. 9 she wants to avoid a shutdown.
"I don't view a shutdown as a game," Whitmer said. "I don't view it as something that is just a leverage point. I view it as something that's very serious that would have ramifications for our state."
Whitmer criticized Republicans for proposing to shift $400 million in discretionary funds to infrastructure on top of the $468 million in general funds, arguing $2.5 billion is required to “fix the damn roads.”
That budget includes a 24 percent cut to the Michigan Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) education programs, which spokesperson Chris Gautz told The Center Square could result in about 75 layoffs of education staff members by Jan. 1, 2020, and shuttering a woman’s vocational program currently under construction.
Gautz said he believes the roughly $10 million cuts to prisoner education programs were “a legitimate error.”
The budget doesn’t fund updating GPS tethers from Verizon’s 3G to 4G network, which will “go dark” on Jan. 1, 2020 at the latest, Gautz said, and MDOC would lose track of more than 4,000 people across the state, some of whom are sex offenders, violent criminals and drunk drivers.
“No matter what the governor does, we need to have the legislature come back to the table with us and work through these issues with us so we can secure the funding,” Gautz said.
Ordering 4,000 new tethers could take two months, depending on manufacturing and delivery.
The budget calls for a record 2.4 percent, or $15.2 billion, increase in K-12 school spending, compared to Whitmer’s proposed 3.5 percent goal.
President and CEO of the Mental Health Association in Michigan Mark Reinstein told Bridge that the late budget provision would privatize many Medicaid mental-health services and merge Medicaid mental-health programs with physical health programs.
The budget would increase Medicaid mental health spending by $100 million, comprised of $38 million for autism services and $31 million for community substance abuse services.
Whitmer can use line a line-item veto to eliminate provisions.
"I think she'll have a very busy red pen," Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said on WJR-AM 760 Monday morning.