LANSING (WXYZ) — On the heels of her unprecedented budget power play, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday she’s waiting for Republicans to "get serious" about the state budget and return to the negotiating table.
“They eviscerated some of the critical functions that we need to do to protect public health and public safety,” Whitmer told 7 Action News' Ross Jones. “So I had to make some tough decisions. Their phony road plan came at a cost of monitoring tethers of child sex predators and drunk drivers.”
In issuing 147 line-item vetoes Monday, the governor challenged Republicans to sit down with her or risk losing out on significant funding.
Included in the governor’s vetoes were $128 million from the school aid budget, $37 million from the Pure Michigan ad campaign, $14.8 million in county jail reimbursements and more than $1 million in autism funding.
“There is no amount of red pen usage that will result in enough green buttons pushed in the Senate to get my governor what she wants," said Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey on Tuesday. "We are in no rush to participate in Gov. Whitmer’s ‘tug of war.'”
By Wednesday, Republicans said Whitmer was using the vulnerable as political pawns. She said she was left with no choice.
“I understand the frustration that a lot of people are feeling right now, I share it as well,” she said. “My original budget tells you exactly what my priorities are. I do support the Autism Alliance, I do support Pure Michigan. There were things I had to veto that did not add up.”
Whitmer said she's willing to restore some of the funding that was vetoed Monday, but not if Republicans continue to make ultimatums. Whitmer is scheduled to meet Thursday with Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.
Much of the stalemate between the three revolves around road funding. Whitmer wanted to raise $2.5 billion through a gas tax. Republicans said no, offering instead $400 million in one-time spending that Whitmer vetoed, calling it insufficient.
“Short of 45 cents a gallon, what would you accept on roads,” Jones asked.
“Any serious alternative,” Whitmer said. “If the Republicans came to the table and said okay, we can’t raise $2.5 billion, but we’ll raise a billion and a half, that would be a serious conversation that we could get started on.
"Stealing $400 million from other critical functions for one-time dollars is not serious," she said. "Turning roads to gravel, not serious.”