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Claiming "broken trust," Republicans seek to curb governor's money-shifting power

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Cheyna Roth
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Michigan Radio

Republicans say Governor Whitmer broke their trust when she rearranged millions of dollars in the spending plan they sent to her. Whitmer used the power of the State Administrative Board to transfer money within departments. This was after Republicans sent her a budget without her input.

Whitmer used a unique and rarely used power to move much of that money around. The vetoes are widely unpopular. Even Whitmer says she’d like to find a way to restore some of them.

Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) says he wants to be sure Whitmer won’t move more money around before they try to work with her on new spending plans.

He thinks there should be a cap on how much money the governor can transfer using the Administrative Board.

“I think it’s important that we don’t allow a wholesale rewrite of a budget,” Chatfield said.

Whitmer has said she’s open to negotiations, but she doesn’t want to reduce the power of the office for herself or future administrations.

“You know, I’ve been pretty clear I think that I’m not going to abrogate my executive authority," she said. "Not for my administration or any future administration.”

But Republican leaders say they need ironclad guarantees from Whitmer that she won’t make those types of big budget decisions without the Legislature’s OK. And they say the best way to do that may be a law that says she can’t.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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