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Whitmer uses veto pen on tax bills

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a series of tax bills on Wednesday.

The governor described the bills as “a commendable effort” to provide relief to Michiganders during a time of crisis. But Whitmer says she vetoed the bills because local governments told her the bills would create more problems than they would have solved.  

State Representative Jim Lower (R-Greenville) says his bills were intended to give homeowners and business owners more flexibility for paying 2020 summer property taxes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says the governor’s veto came as a surprise.

“It’s just disappointing considering we were quite literally on a work group call with some of her staff going through some of the technical problems they had to do to fix in a follow-up bill,” says Lower. “And then to have it vetoed quite literally as that’s playing out is extremely disappointing.”

Republicans hope to send revised tax bills to the governor later this month.

The governor’s vetoes drew praise from some local government officials.

“Michigan's K-12 schools are already facing a budget crisis and these bills would have only made that worse,” says Robert McCann, executive director of the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education. “We appreciate Governor Whitmer prioritizing our schools and our students through her vetoes today.”

But Michigan business leaders have another view of the vetoes.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying the governor’s vetoes leave “businesses and individuals without a lifeline.”

“When state government comes in and forces businesses to shut down for three months, leaving them without revenue to pay one of the largest (if not the largest tax bill), it would make sense to give an extension,” said Dan Papineau, Director of Tax and Policy Affairs. 

In her veto letter, Whitmer insists her administration has provided “critical direct supports” to businesses during the pandemic. Specifically, the governor points to more than $100 million in small business grants and stabilization funds. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.