Legislative session ends without supplemental budget deal
Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas
A supplemental budget deal failed to materialize late Wednesday as Michigan’s 101st Legislature came to a close, ending a dozen years of total Republican rule.
Incoming House Minority Leader, Rep. Matt Hall (R-Comstock Township), said the deal between Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and GOP leaders fell apart in the session’s final hours.
“This would have been an investment in our workforce and a down payment on our state’s potential, but the governor has chosen to not follow through on her original commitment,” said Hall.
Had it been approved, Hall said Republicans would have agreed to place $200 million for business incentives into the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) fund in exchange for Whitmer agreeing to support House bills 5080 and 5081, which would block the Treasury Department from collecting tax revenue on some deliveries and installations for businesses.
However, Sen. Curtis Hertel, (D-East Lansing), the minority vice chair on the Senate Appropriations Committee, disputed Hall’s characterization that a deal had ever been reached, calling it a “ridiculous misrepresentation of what happened.”
That was confirmed by Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), who chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee. He noted that negotiations had gone back and forth on the deal.
“I don’t think there’s any point of specific blame, just different perspectives that did not come together,” he told The Detroit News.
Both Hertel and Stamas are term-limited and are serving out their final days in the legislature.
The Senate Fiscal Agency estimated the bills would reduce revenue to the state general fund and revenue sharing to local units of government by approximately $60 million per year in the first year, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.
While Hall declined to say what the $200 million in SOAR funding was for, Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) issued a press release slamming Gov. Whitmer, saying it was intended to be used for a timber industry project in the Upper Peninsula’s Delta County.
“After initially agreeing to this plan, the governor played Lucy with the football and robbed the U.P. again,” said LaFave. “These were stable, well-paying jobs that would have helped Yoopers at a time when inflation is rampant, and folks are already struggling to make ends meet.”
“I cannot wait for her to try and explain this one away at the U.P. State Fair in August,” he added. “If you lose your job in the timber industry between now and then, feel free to hold her personally responsible.”
In response, Whitmer’s spokesman Bobby Leddy referred to the statements by Hertel and Stamas contradicting the claim a deal had ever been reached, telling Michigan Advance that while an agreement could not be reached now, that didn’t mean the issue was dead in the water.
“Governor Whitmer is always ready to work with anyone who’s serious about solving problems and getting things done that will make working families’ lives better right now,” said Leddy. “Over the last four years, she successfully brought together Republicans and Democrats to pass numerous historic pieces of legislation that cut taxes, put money back into people’s pockets, and made our state a competitive place to do business again, while landing more than 10,000 new jobs in the process. In less than a month, an entirely new legislature will be seated after Michiganders voted to change leadership, and we look to tackle this and more with new lawmakers in the new year.”
Michigan Democrats will assume control of the legislature come January 1st, following their historic wins on Nov. 8. The last time Democrats held a majority in the state House was 2010, while Republicans have ruled the state Senate since 1984.
Wednesday’s final session was a 14-hour marathon with farewell speeches from more than 50 outgoing legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), who is also term-limited.
Shirkey stunned his colleagues with a diatribe that devolved into COVID-19 conspiracy theories about world governance and a reference to placing his hand in a Senate office building toilet.
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