LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan) signed a bill with $55 billion in spending to complete the $70 billion state budget Wednesday at Lansing Community College.
When Michigan went into the pandemic, the state budget director projected a $3.5 billion deficit. Instead, thanks to federal funding after the signing of this budget, we still have more than $2 billion left to spend.
As a result, the controversy in this budget is not about spending cuts. It is about masks, vaccine mandates, and abortion rights.
WXYZ asked State Budget Director David Massaron if having enough funding due to federal stimulus - simplified the process.
“The interesting thing is I think more funding is actually often harder because you have more choices about what to do,” said Massaron.
So what did the Republican-led legislature and the governor decide to do?
They funded improvements to the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
“We took another $150 million dollars and supported the UIA, the Unemployment Insurance Agency because they have been lax in tracking down people committing fraud,” said State Representative Douglas Wozniak (R-36th District).
They funded child care to help parents get back in the workforce.
“This budget expands low or no cost child care to 105,000 Michigan kids,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
They are paying for infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and work on the Chapaton Drain in Macomb County.
“I am pretty happy we got $2 million for the Chapaton Drain,” said State Rep. Wozniak. “So that we don’t discharge into Lake Saint Clair anymore. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.”
“This budget helps invest nearly $200 million to repair or replace 100 bridges that are in serious or critical condition,” said Gov. Whitmer.
The governor did veto some parts of the spending bill, including spending she said would further an anti-choice agenda and language that would allow lawmakers to use the budget to threaten funding of local health departments that require employee vaccinations or institute mask mandates.
“I’ve also addressed some unenforceable boilerplate to ensure we can take health measures to save lives,” said Gov. Whitmer.
The governor held the signing at Lansing Community College to promote funding for tuition for community college with two programs. One of them is MI Reconnect, which provides a last-dollar scholarship to individuals over the age of 25 with a high school diploma. Futures for Frontliners helps cover tuition for those who worked through the first months of the pandemic as frontline workers.
They also put $500 million into Michigan’s rainy day fund, which is the largest one-time deposit in state history.