Gov. Gretchen Whitmer averted a government shutdown on Monday by signing a state budget sent to her on the eve of a fiscal-year deadline, but she used her veto pen to press Republican leaders in the state House and Senate to return to the negotiating table.
Whitmer described the Legislature’s budget as “fatally flawed” in explaining “hard decisions” she made to veto 147 line items in the budget, including cuts to programs in the School Aid budget totaling $128 million.
“Rest assured, this isn’t the end of the conversation. It’s just the beginning,” she told reporters at a press conference Tuesday morning.
Talks between Whitmer and lawmakers broke down when the legislative leaders brought little more than demands to the negotiating table after taking a two-month summer recess and submitting a spending plan days before the Oct. 1 deadline for having a budget in place.
“They came with ultimatums,” she said. “That’s not a negotiation.”
In the state education budget, Whitmer took a red pen to a variety of line items, including $1.5 million for online learning tools, $35 million for charter school foundation allowance increases, $16 million for CTE equipment, and $15 million for summer school literacy intervention grants.
MEA President Paula Herbart said in addition to vetoing pet projects and vendor contracts, Whitmer cut meaningful education programs and initiatives that had been fully funded in the governor’s own education budget back in March.
“No individual education expenditure is more important than ensuring our schools have the basic resources they need to help every student succeed,” Herbart said. “Gov. Whitmer’s initial budget earned our support because it strove to make that real change – and we continue to support her efforts to negotiate real solutions for how the state meets its school funding obligations.”
After releasing a list of budget items removed by line-item veto, Whitmer scheduled a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers from both chambers to begin work on a supplemental budget. Herbart urged House and Senate leaders to return to the table.
“It is our hope that legislative leaders will use this opportunity to negotiate with the governor – not only to provide funding to many of these unfunded programs, but more broadly to fix our broken school funding system and provide every student the resources they need and deserve.”