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Budget deal restores funds for rural hospitals, charter schools, adult foster care, and more

Updated December 11, 2019 at 5:29 p.m.:

The Legislature has adopted more measures that are part of a deal to end the budget standoff with Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

House and Senate appropriations committee voted Wednesday to reverse some actions taken by a state executive branch board. The restored funds include money for adult foster care and child care.

State Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) is the ranking Democrat on the appropriations committee. He says this also sets the stage for transportation negotiations to resume next year.

“I think discussions are still continuing on different road ideas. Obviously, it’s not going to be everything that anybody wants, but I think a negotiated package is possible in January.”

Republican Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) is the state Senate Majority Leader. He says the deal also sets the rules for future negotiations between the Legislature and the Democratic governor.

“I think this is a win for the citizens of the state of Michigan and it secures what I think the constitution provides for and that is a governor proposes, and a legislature disposes and when differences are there, they have to negotiate.”

Shirkey says funding for more programs could be restored depending on how negotiations go in the new year. He says those talks could also include ideas on road funding.

The Legislature is expected to finish up its work for the year Wednesday. and take its annual winter break.

Updated Tuesday December 10, 2019 at 4:36 p.m.:

Funding for rural hospitals, road patrols, and charter schools would be restored under a budget deal approved Tuesday by the state Legislature. The deal will lay to rest the budget standoff between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature’s Republican leaders. The governor says she will sign the budget bills and abide by the terms of the deal.

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) says he’s glad the controversy is settled.

“This has not been something I’ve been particularly proud of, this whole budget prosecution," Shirkey said. "But what became very clear is some serious vulnerabilities in statute that allowed what happened to happen.”

The agreement creates a new balance of power between the governor and the Legislature. It requires the governor to notify the Legislature before she asks an executive board to make unilateral budget decisions. It also makes it easier for the Legislature to reverse those decisions.

Governor Whitmer says she will sign the bills and respect the agreement.

The new arrangement requires the governor to give the Legislature 30 days notice before calling on the State Administrative Board to make budget changes. The Legislature could also vote to reverse those actions.

Original post, December 10, 2019 at 3:49 p.m.:

State lawmakers returned to Lansing Tuesday to ratify a new budget deal between Republicans and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The bills restore some of the $947 million in line-item vetoes executed by the governor in October.

The Senate also passed bills that will undo some unilateral actions taken by the State Administrative Board, which the governor controls.

The governor says the agreement also includes a new understanding of how she will use that executive authority in the future. Whitmer says she’ll be glad to sign her name to a supplemental budget, and move on.

"We’ve had some productive conversations. I think you saw the first movement with a supplemental that we negotiated, and I’m looking forward to getting to my desk so I can sign, and we’ll get it done.”

The governor says she’s disappointed no deal was reached on substantial new revenue for roads and infrastructure. She rejected a GOP proposal to re-purpose existing revenue for roads.

"The Legislature did not propose anything of substance this year," says Whitmer. "All the solutions that came out of the leadership this year was let the roads turn to gravel or steal from teachers’ pensions and neither of which was acceptable.”

She says that will be a top priority when she and the Legislature go to work on a new state budget next year – as Michigan heads into a new election cycle.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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