State Budget Battle Continues

The war of words between political parties is continuing as the state budget battle wages on.

Lawmakers adjourned for much of the summer without reaching a budget deal – with the sticking points being road and school funding. The House returned to session Tuesday and the Senate started meeting last week. Livingston County’s Republican State Representatives Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville and Ann Bollin of Brighton Township both issued press releases Friday criticizing Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed 45-cent gas tax hike to fix roads.

The GOP-led House approved a budget plan in June that local lawmakers say adds more than $800 (m) million a year to fixing roads without a tax increase. The proposed plan would redirect the equivalent of the current 6% sales tax motorists already pay at the pump to be used exclusively for roads. It would also raise the state’s minimum per-pupil foundation allowance by $180.

Bollin says most school districts would get that increase, including every district in Livingston County, and every district in the state would get at least $90 more per student. She says legislative leaders worked in good faith over the summer to reach a resolution on roads with Governor Whitmer but unfortunately, her insistence on a 45-cent per gallon tax increase is holding up final agreement on an overall budget. Vaupel affirmed that he will not support Whitmer’s proposed gas tax hike, calling her comments toward the legislature “unnecessary and deceiving”. Vaupel says the House budget plan he supported forces government to operate more efficiently, rather than saddling drivers with a tax increase.

Meanwhile, Whitmer says “I’m working day and night to get a deal that will make bold, meaningful investments in our schools and infrastructure. The problems we’re facing are decades in the making, and they’re a result of leaders in Lansing kicking the can down the road and using School Aid Fund dollars to fill gaps in the budget. That changes this year. I’m not going to sign a budget that doesn’t include a real fix. It’s time for Republicans to stop playing games, come to the table, and negotiate a real solution.”

The Governor and Legislature have until midnight on October 1st to reach a budget deal or Michigan government will shut down for the first time in a decade. (JM)

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