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Gov. Whitmer, Republican leaders continue to search for common ground on budget

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Governor Rick Snyder is working to get his budget through the State Senate. He hopes to have an agreement on the next fiscal year's budget by May 31st.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature’s Republican leaders met Thursday. They are trying to find common ground this week following the governor’s sweeping line-item budget vetoes.

No agreements were reached, but all parties say the fact that the talks are continuing is a good sign. However, there is a growing sense of urgency among the people who run programs that are affected by the budget cuts. Those include local jails, human services, and charter schools.

Amber McCann is the press secretary for state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake).

“We are very cognizant of the stress on some of these programs, and that is why the majority leader has been committed to meeting with the governor and working with her as long as an open line of communication exists,” she said.

State Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He’s proposed an alternative plan to begin the talks.

“I can’t tell you how long discussions take, but I can certainly tell you it’s important to everybody because they’re in the room, and as long as we’re in the room and working together and talking with each other, I think that’s good for the Michigan people,” he said.

The state’s fiscal year began 10 days ago, but Hertel says there’s still a little time to reach a deal. He says local jails and people served by county health programs would be among the first to feel the effects if an agreement is not reached soon.

Legislative leaders and the governor are supposed to talk again on Tuesday.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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