Albert resigns as House Approps chair, opposes new bipartisan spending plan

Speaker Wentworth appoints Whiteford for rest of term

By: - September 28, 2022 9:37 am

State Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), Feb. 9, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Updated, 10:43 a.m. 9/28/22, with comments from Rep. Whiteford

State Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) on Wednesday resigned from the powerful post of House Appropriations Committee chair, citing differences in vision with others involved in crafting supplemental funding legislation that has been expected to pass later in the day.

Earlier this month Albert voiced his opposition to any supplemental spending this fall, although the state has about a $7 billion surplus, citing concerns about the economy. 

Appropriations leaders from both chambers were set to meet Wednesday morning for a conference committee on supplemental bills for the School Aid Fund and state departments through Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, but the meeting quickly went into recess without votes and has not been picked back up.

“ … Today it is time for a change in leadership for the House Appropriations Committee,” Albert said in a subsequent statement Wednesday morning, calling the measure being considered by the Legislature “reckless and irresponsible to taxpayers.”

“I cannot support the supplemental budget measure that is before the Legislature today. As I said at the beginning of this month — now is not the time for the state to commit to spending more money. … We simply do not know if tax revenues will come into the state as we anticipated previously.

“ … The measure the Legislature is considering today is reckless and irresponsible to taxpayers, and I will be voting against it,” Albert said, also claiming that increased government spending fuels inflation.

Michigan currently has a surplus of about $3.5 billion in the General Fund and $3.5 billion in the School Aid Fund.  The state also has $230 million remaining in its outreach and attraction reserve, which can be delegated to programs intended to attract and maintain businesses and investments in the state.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the bipartisan $76 billion budget for FY 2023 in July. The budget for FY 2022 will remain in effect until Sept. 30.

State House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) | Ken Coleman photo

In a statement following Albert’s announcement, House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) praised Albert’s “outstanding record” as chair before announcing that he is appointing state Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp.) to lead the committee for the rest of the term.

“The Appropriations chair is appointed by the Speaker, and they should have compatible visions for the committee’s work. I am stepping aside so the Speaker may appoint a new chair,” Albert had said in his statement.

Whiteford thanked Albert for his service in a statement.

“It’s an honor to be given this opportunity by Speaker Wentworth to oversee our chamber’s budget committee for the remaining months of the term,” Whiteford said. “I recognize that every dollar at our disposal belongs to the people of Michigan, and I feel a great sense of responsibility to ensure each dollar is spent wisely to make our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”

Also in the realm of supplemental spending is a bipartisan bill set to move through the state Legislature this week, crafted with Whitmer and GOP legislative leaders, that would shell out more money on economic development to attract businesses to the state.

That supplemental includes tax breaks for the lithium-ion battery manufacturer Gotion, which is headquartered in California and is a subsidiary of the Chinese company Guoxuan High-Tech Co.

A new Gotion facility in Michigan could lead to the company investing more than $3 million and creating 2,000 new jobs over the next decade.

But GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon has bashed the bipartisan deal in the works for being with a “foreign” company, although she did not criticize her fellow Republicans.

“Why is Gretchen backing China over her own country? Can she assure us there will be no influence from the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]?” Dixon tweeted Tuesday night, along with a video criticizing the move.

“Our taxpayer dollars are going to go to a Chinese corporation. This is something we have to hold Gretchen Whitmer accountable for,” Dixon said.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).

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