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Gov. Including Secondary Road Patrol, Autism Navigator In Her Supplemental

October 15, 2019

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is including funding for secondary road patrol grants to mostly rural counties, veteran service grants, a “critical access” hospital rate increase and $1 million for the autism navigator program as part of her proposed supplemental she’s writing with Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing), MIRS has learned.

When they were scratched from the budget, the road patrol grants totaled $13 million, the veteran grants were $4 million and the critical hospital increase was $38 million, although it wasn’t immediately known if Whitmer was seeking those exact dollar amounts.

The four spending priorities are among those items vetoed by Whitmer two weeks ago that Republican legislators had included in the $256 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 mid-year spending plan they laid out Tuesday.

The move can be seen as an olive branch on the Governor’s part considering she didn’t completely agree to fund any of the four aforementioned items at the legislative-approved levels in her initial FY 2020 budget.

Whitmer didn’t include the autism navigator grants or an extra $2 million for secondary road patrols in her initial FY ’20 budget. Back in March, she reduced a rural hospital obstetrical stabilization pool line by $3 million, initially, but left the rest of the rural hospital’s funding alone until the Oct. 1 vetoes. She also had halved the county veterans service fund from $4.2 million to $2.1 million in her initial proposal.

The other items Whitmer is putting in the supplemental that she is scheduled to discuss with Republican legislative leaders are items she has long trumpeted.

They include money for literacy coaches and her proposed Reconnect Michigan higher education scholarship plan for older students, according to a document obtained by MIRS.

As initially laid out, Reconnect Michigan had a $175 million ($125 million General Fund) dollar tag attached to it. The Governor also wanted $24.5 million for literacy coaches to help early elementary school kids read at grade level by the end of the 3rd grade.

Money to backfill employee reductions within the Department of Corrections and Department of Technology, Management and Budget is on the menu, as is money to get lead pipes out of homes and a health insurer fee.

The Governor wants money to support those seeking to fulfill the new Healthy Michigan (Medicaid expansion) work requirement, a foster care supportive visitation program and centers for independent living under the Department of Health and Human Services.

In her Administrative Board transfers, Whitmer boosted Healthy Michigan by a combined $15.1 million through two department budgets. 

Whitmer had wanted a $5.9 million General Fund increase for a program designed to help reunify children who are in foster care due to abuse and neglect with their parents. The Legislature’s final budget included a $3 million increase.

Whitmer’s Administrative Board transferred an additional $3.5 million to Centers for Independent Living after the Legislature set aside $1.5 million more for this program.

She wants the implementation of the new independent redistricting commission moved back to the Secretary of State’s office, as opposed to the Legislature, where lawmakers put it. The Governor wanted $4.6 million spent through the Secretary of State’s office. The Legislature dialed back that number to $3.4 million and put the money under the purview of the Legislature’s budget.

She wants money to prepare for the 2020 Census and money into a balanced budget reserve fund.

Whitmer had called for $150 million be put into the Rainy Day Fund as part of her initial FY ’20 budget recommendation. Legislators sent her a budget with $0 deposit.

The information MIRS received didn’t include a total dollar figure and isn’t an exhaustive list of what could be included in negotiations with legislators, sources say.

The $37.5 million Pure Michigan tourism marketing program and the $37.26 million Going Pro skilled trades training program, for example, likely will be discussed, but weren’t included in either branch’s initial offering.

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