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House Passes $80.9B Budget Along Party Lines

May 14, 2024

The House became the first chamber to vote out its budget bills Wednesday, approving an $80.9 billion spending proposal consisting of 18 departmental budget bills and the two omnibus shells that will soon be filled with final allocations.

Appropriations Chair Angela Witwer (D-Lansing) highlighted her budget’s overall focus on locals, including a change in the General Government budget to local government revenue sharing, which would allow them to receive a set 8 percent of the state’s sales tax, or $591 million.

“The people want to be taken care of, and they want to be able to predict their budgets, just like schools can predict their budgets, businesses can, but locals have always relied on whatever the legislature decides to give them,” Witwer said. “We’re trying to get stability back to the people in Michigan and to our local governments.”

She also highlighted funding for housing in the Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) budget, along with water infrastructure funding in Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids)’s Environment, Great Lakes and Energy budget.

Hood said the state has a $19 billion water infrastructure funding deficit, “and we’re trying to chip away at it.”

House Republicans didn’t necessarily share Democrats’ enthusiasm, as almost every budget bill passed along party lines, 56-49. Reps. Graham Filler (R-St. Johns), Mike Harris (R-Clarkston), Mike Mueller (R-Linden), John Roth (R-Interlochen) and Bill G. Schuette (R-Midland) were absent throughout the day.

The only budget to receive bipartisan support was HB 5509, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs budget, which passed 57-48, with a yes vote from Rep. William Bruck (R-Erie).

House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Kalamazoo) said his caucus’s no votes originated from Democrats’ refusal to adopt amendments that would reinstate reporting requirements and address what he called “earmark corruption,” or last-minute budget additions, which have typically been the norm.

“These guys (Democrats) spent billions of dollars in the middle of the night last time,” Hall said. “In the future, let’s disclose the sponsors in advance. Let’s not give this stuff to companies that don’t exist. You know, let’s not give them to people that have relationships with people in the legislature. We’re trying to put some guardrails on that, and you saw them vote every single one of those down.”

Hall also said he wants to see funded programs be measured “not using the criteria the bureaucrats use, but the criteria that would actually make a difference,” meaning measuring programs based on the return on investment for the taxpayer.

In total, Republicans proposed more than 200 amendments, all of which failed. Voting took approximately eight hours, from noon until a little after 8 p.m.

By comparison, House Democrats introduced and passed 14 amendments, with the most changes directed towards the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget, housed in HB 5556, and the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity budget, housed in HB 5502, which were each amended four times.

Among the changes to the DHHS budget was an amendment made by Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights) allocating $3.5 million towards firefighter health screenings. The original budget recommendation as proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer included the funding, but the House’s initial proposal removed it.

A Rep. Reggie Miller (D-Belleville) amendment appropriating an additional $2.5 million for first responder post-traumatic stress disorder programming was also approved, building on the $2.5 million General Fund appropriation suggested by Whitmer. The combined funding brings the program back up to the $5 million it received in Fiscal Year 2023-24.

Other changes by Subcommittee Chair Christine Morse (D-Kalamazoo) addressed nursing facility Medicaid bed certification boilerplate and pharmacy-related policies with Food and Drug Administration quality and clinical standards boilerplate.

Within the LEO budget, Rep. Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph) proposed an amendment adding $15 million in one-time funding to the Going Pro Talent Fund, which awards money to employers to assist with training, development and retaining talent.

The executive recommendation, which the House initially did not include, allocated $20 million from the General Fund towards the program.

Several other placeholders that had been included in the House’s initial budget recommendation were also amended with additional funding, including $2 million towards the Center for Social Enterprise Development.

Other Democratic-adopted amendments include:
  • HB 5505, the higher education budget, included one technical cleanup request by bill sponsor Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills).
  • HB 5509, the budget for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, included $2.5 million in supplemental funding for the Selfridge Air National Guard Base, bringing total funding up to $10 million.
  • HB 5510, the budget for the Michigan State Police (MSP), was amended by Rep. John Fitzgerald (D-Wyoming) to include $10 million for a MSP Public Safety Academy Assistance Program.
  • HB 5512, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) budget, was amended by Rep. Jenn Hill (D-Marquette) to include conservation officers under the blanket of funded State Employee Retirement System designees.
  • HB 5516, the General Government budget, included an amendment to claw back funding for Global Link International and a Clare health campus.
On the Republican side, attempted amendment highlights included:
  • Within the Department of Corrections budget, a $21 million allocation of unexpended work project funds to help corrections officers increase their pay scale more quickly.
  • Within the DNR budget, $1 million for dam repairs on state-owned lands.
  • Within the Department of Transportation budget, $400 million for local road repairs and replacements.
  • Within the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy budget, the removal of a $25 million line item towards government-subsidized charging infrastructure.


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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