Michiganders deserve better

Michiganders deserve better

Over the last two weeks, my colleagues in both chambers of the Legislature negotiated and finalized a responsible budget to fund our state for the 2020 fiscal year. This process kicked off after the governor presented her executive recommendation in early March. Since then, the Legislature has taken its time to craft and pass a budget that meets the needs of Michigan families.

After negotiations were burdened by the governor’s threatened massive tax hike on Michigan families, we finally moved forward with budgets based on what we could afford, not what we can get from taxpayers.

We approved a K-12 plan that invested $15.2 billion in education, a total increase of nearly $400 million from last year’s budget. Under our plan, schools across the 34th Senate District would see a foundation allowance boost, while special education, student safety and skilled trades training would also see notable increases. Schools had already started their years with uncertainty, and we had reached the time to act.

The Legislature’s plan also included $5.3 billion in transportation funding to improve our state’s infrastructure. Specifically, the plan included $400 million in one-time funding for local road and bridge construction. This money would have been used to fully implement the $1.2 billion roads plan from 2015 with additional revenue left over.

Instead, what we got was a myriad of red ink, in the form of vetoes from the governor, that carelessly harms Michigan families.

Included in Whitmer’s vetoes Monday evening was $15 million for municipal airports, like the one in Muskegon County, for costs associated with PFAS, and $7.5 million for private well testing. Water quality has been an agreeable issue throughout the budget discussions. Since the beginning, the governor has supported our state’s natural resources and the importance of clean drinking water, yet she vetoed millions of dollars that would have helped protect our environment and ensure folks have clean drinking water.

She also slashed $35 million from public charter schools, which will have an immediate, negative impact on schools in Muskegon Heights and across the state. These cuts will do nothing but reduce educational opportunities that would have otherwise been there. Our students and educators deserve better than to be used as political leverage.

Perhaps the most confusing of the governor’s decisions is her veto of nearly $400 million in road funding. I know I’m not alone in trying to understand how our governor, who campaigned on the need to fix Michigan’s roads, and who has relentlessly pushed for a massive tax increase to do so, could veto funding to continue local road repairs while we seek a long-term solution. I don’t understand how having $375 million less is a better solution — especially when it all came from existing revenue.

The governor also vetoed funding to reimburse county jails for housing inmates, help ensure veterans receive the services they deserve, put more Michigan State Police troopers on the road, help rural communities by providing adequate access to health care and improve efforts to protect our environment.

I am proud to have supported the responsible budgets passed by the Legislature. Hardworking families across the state collectively rejected the governor’s massive tax hike, and lawmakers in the governor’s own caucus refused to introduce her plan. Instead, we did what many working families have to do with their budgets: We tightened our belts and made it work with money that we had.

I join many others in expressing my extreme disappointment in the governor’s actions Monday evening. Her political statement will dramatically affect education, public safety and water quality testing, among other crucial programs and services in my district.

Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, represents the 34th state Senate District, which includes Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties.

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