Nesbitt Wants Debt Paid Down; No ‘Partisan Spending Spree’
May 9, 2023
Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog e-newsletter
Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) said Thursday he wants “real negotiations” when Democrats want to start talking with Republicans on getting votes to immediately pass a Fiscal Year 2024 spending plan.
He wants time to read the budget and, when that’s done, Nesbitt said he wants long-term debt paid down, infrastructure investment and a “sustainable, balanced budget.”
In remarks on the floor, Nesbitt said he doesn’t want the $9 billion surplus collected from taxpayers to ignite a “partisan spending spree.” Yet, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget not only spends every penny, it’s $1 billion out of whack with updated projected revenue numbers.
“I’m not sure how that’s possible, but here we are,” he said.
He called for a bipartisan plan that invests in school security and education while putting Michigan government on sound financial footing going forward.
As far as Senate Republicans are concerned, “There is a willingness to work together; however, the early stages of this budget process seem reminiscent of just a few months ago in this chamber. Little communication. Little opportunity for alternative proposals. A lack of transparency when it comes to amendments and the ability to discuss them.”
Albert Dumps On Universal School Meals
Asked to select the most objectionable piece in the Democrat’s $20 billion record PreK-12 School Aid bill, a Senate Republican subcommittee member wasted little time fingering the proposed universal free school breakfast and lunch program.
“Probably the biggest thing I wish we’d do differently is the $160 million to buy a free lunch for everybody, regardless of whether their parents are millionaires or billionaires,” said Sen. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) on the Off The Record (OTR) broadcast recorded on Thursday.
PreK-12 Democratic Subcommittee Chair Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) said he included the free breakfast and lunch for all students as a way to erase the “stigma” attached to those students from disadvantaged homes who get the free meals.
To that, Albert said, “I’d love to have a conversation about that. Provide the evidence. It’s just a talking point. There is nothing behind it. There are no studies that I’ve ever seen. It’s all anecdotal.”
The free meal program and the rest of the Democratic budgets require six GOP votes to send the state aid to schools immediately. The West Michigan Republican says he could be one of those six but he wants something in return from the other side.
Number one on the list is paying down the state’s long-term debt obligations. Whether that’s putting more money into teacher retirement or helping Highland Park with its $24 million in overdue water debt, Albert said he wasn’t picky.
Asked if his vote was up for grabs, he says, “Yes, sir. I’m not an automatic no. I want to get to a yes and I’ve laid out what the path to a yes is.”
He did credit Camilleri for asking the former chair of the House Appropriations Committee for his input on the budget bill.
“I do appreciate the outreach he provided,” Albert said, but he wants to redirect part of the $160 million program into early childhood education, where he thinks there is a greater benefit to more children.
The senator’s OTR appearance was on the web Friday at wkar.org.