At least four of Michigan’s Republican senators are expressing their disapproval of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 2025 budget, which she highlighted on Wednesday morning at a joint meeting of the Senate and House appropriations committees.
House Republican Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, called Whitmer’s proposed $81 billion budget “disappointing,” proving “her priorities are out of step with the people of Michigan.”
Hall continued: “Taxpayers want a high return on their investment. They don’t want new fool’s gold programs that feel good but don’t provide real value for their tax dollars. They want government to do the basics efficiently and effectively.”
Hall said Whitmer has reneged on her campaign promises to “fix the damned roads” while prioritizing promoting electric vehicles that most people don’t want to buy.
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“Thanks to responsible, dedicated practices Republicans put in place, our state has shored up health care funding for retired teachers, but Gov. Whitmer is robbing from our teachers and future generations of taxpayers by refusing to invest our savings in the debt we owe to our teachers’ pensions. At the same time, the governor is asking for working families to pay for free college for rich kids. And in our K-12 schools, while spending keeps increasing, Michiganders want real solutions; the seven out of 10 fourth-graders who can’t read proficiently deserve better,” he said.
Referring to the Democrat trifecta of the 2022 election that saw Whitmer’s reelection as well as Democrats winning the House and Senate, Hall continued: “With total control of state government over the last year, Democrats have spent enormous sums of taxpayer dollars on unsustainable programs and pet projects for politically favored areas. They even raised the income tax on every Michigander and small business in January to pay for more wasteful spending. But they couldn’t blow through the money fast enough, and now they’re planning to use the interest and their tax hike to pay for more spending while ignoring some of the biggest needs of Michiganders. The people of Michigan deserve a government that works for them and delivers value for their dollars. The governor’s budget of misplaced priorities doesn’t cut it.”
Sen. Republican House Leader Aric Nesbitt, R-Porter Twp., and Senate Appropriations Minority Vice Chair Jon Bumstead, R-North Muskegon, sent a letter Wednesday to the governor that outlines their opposition to her budget priorities.
Sen. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, pointed out a discrepancy in Whitmer’s claim that Michigan has paid down $18 million in debt since she took office in 2019. In a question to State Budget Director Jen Flood during Wednesday’s joint session, Albert quoted the Detroit Free Press, which noted Whitmer’s assertion was “Not supported by the data.”
“Here is the condition of our debt obligations as reported in the most recent financial statements,” Albert said, before reading a list of some of the state’s debt.
According to Albert, the School Employees’ pension system is $38 billion in debt; the State Employees’ pension system is $6 billion in debt; and the State Police pension system is almost $1 billion in debt.
“That’s $45 billion in obligations we still owe,” he said. “So my question is with the state still owing $45 billion to retired teachers, state police troopers, and state employees, how does the governor justify reducing our debt payments and what is the long term cost?” he asked.
The governor’s budget recommendation totals $80.7 billion, which includes a general fund total of $14.3 billion and a school aid budget totaling $19 billion.
In his letter co-written with Bumstead, Nesbitt also took issue with Whitmer’s fiscal policies.
“What we saw from Gov. Whitmer today was more public relations talking points paid for by the $700 million income tax increase the Democrat majority demanded,” Nesbitt, said. “Michigan families deserve a government that effectively spends their tax dollars on roads, schools and public safety, but Democrats recklessly squandered a $9 billion surplus, raised income taxes, and are raiding teacher retirement benefits. It’s unfair to force Michigan families to pay billions in government corporate handouts as they struggle to deal with higher grocery bills and energy prices.”
Nesbitt and Bumstead’s letter continued: “A budget so close to a structural deficit would have been unfathomable just one year ago, when the state had a record $9 billion surplus… With cost pressures increasing annually and so little set aside after last year’s spending spree, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before spending officially outpaces revenues if we do not change course.”
Bumstead criticized Whitmer’s spending habits and Democrats’ refusal to provide relief to Michigan taxpayers.
“Last year, Democrats blew through a $9.2 billion surplus and fought for a $700 million income tax hike. Now they are presenting an unsustainable budget that spends more money, bloats the size of government, and offers crumbs for average Michigan families still coping with higher costs on virtually everything,” Bumstead said. “The people of Michigan expect us to work together to improve our state. Republicans will seek common ground, but we won’t support irresponsible spending that expands government control and continues global corporate welfare while many families and small businesses struggle to make ends meet.”