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Remainder of budget reaches Whitmer's desk without long-term road funding

Henryk Sadura Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says the budgets on their way to her desk are “a mess.”

The Legislature voted out the rest of the state budgets Tuesday, including the education and transportationbudgets.

A big disagreement among Republicans and Democrats is whether the term “record funding” means anything. Republicans touted bills that they say put record amounts of money toward roads and education. But Democrats say if the state wasn’t spending that much before, the so-called “record” doesn’t mean anything.

The transportation budget does not have a long-term road funding plan like Whitmer originally wanted. Instead, it includes $400 million in one-time money for roads and bridges. Whitmer says this doesn’t go far enough to fix the roads.

Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) voted in favor of the budget. He says there can be an ongoing conversations about roads.

“It’s our responsibility to pass a responsible budget and get it to the governor’s desk. That is what we have done today," says Chatfield. "[The governor] has the obligation to sign whatever she believes is responsible and we’ll take it one step at a time from there.”

Senator Curtis Hertel (D-Meridian) voted no on the transportation budget.

“Let’s be very clear. Record funding is just another gimmick," he said. "We had record funding in 2016, and then in 2017. Do we make progress fixing the roads? The answer’s no.”

Supporters say the $400 million is a good investment in the state’s priorities.

In the bills sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk, the overall higher education budget would increase by less than one percent. And Democrats and some Republicans are not happy with that.

Senator Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) called the budget a failure.

“Our students deserve better and we are capable of doing better in this budget,” says Anthony. 

Supporters say colleges and universities are doing well, and the state needs to keep a balanced budget.

The bill passed along party lines. The state’s budget is due by midnight on September 30th.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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