Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a supplemental appropriations bill that will spend $28.8 million on several provisions, including automatic voter registration, no-reason absentee voting, a food stamp program and a clean drinking water rule.
“This legislation provides critical funding that will expand access to voting, ensure a full and accurate count in the 2020 Census, and help provide clean drinking water to Michigan residents,” Whitmer said in a news release.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, funds the $2.5 million cost associated with implementing Proposal 3, the ballot initiative on voting laws that passed the state with a two-thirds majority. Provisions include automatically registering someone to vote when issued their state I.D. or driver’s license (unless they choose to opt out), same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting (expanding this process to everyone who needs it).
The bill also appropriates another $2 million toward the state’s Double Up Food Bucks program, which is a supplement to food stamps. It provides incentives for people on food stamps to purchase healthy food and local farming.
An additional $3 million will go toward the Department of Health and Human Services to implement changes to the state’s lead and copper rule, and $1.7 million will go toward water filters. The rest will go toward public education and drinking water investigations.
Whitmer used a line-item veto to remove a provision to compel the Auditor General to audit the Department of State’s roll-out of Proposal 3. She said she supports the legislature’s push for accountability, but said she did not believe the order could legally be included in this bill.
Whitmer, a Democrat, criticized the Republican legislature for not backing some of her other provisions.
“We’ve got more work to do,” she said. “It’s been 111 days since I introduced my budget to fix the damn roads, make the largest investment in public school operations in a generation of students, and clean up our drinking water. There’s no reason why the bipartisan work that went into passing this supplemental shouldn’t carry over into passing the full 2020 budget. Instead of going on summer break, the Republican Legislature should get back to work so we can finish the job. Let's get it done.”
Whitmer and the Republican legislature have proposed different plans to many of these problems and have been fighting over how to increase road funding. Whitmer has proposed a 45-cent gas tax hike while Republicans want to divert spending paid for by savings in administrative costs rather than a tax increase.