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Whitmer signs budget with $7 billion surplus, vetoes abortion language

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer holds a copy of the state budget she signed into law Wednesday.
Rick Pluta
Michigan Public Radio Network
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer holds a copy of the state budget she signed into law Wednesday.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed the final budget bill for the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1.

The nearly $55 billion General Fund budget is the product of a bipartisan deal between the Democratic governor and the Legislature’s Republican leaders. The spending deal is fueled by use-it-or-lose-it federal recovery funds and higher-than-expected tax revenues. That also includes $7 billion set aside that could be used to hedge against an economic downturn or, somewhat more likely, as a revenue source to backfill a tax cut.

The Whitmer administration would prefer a one-time tax cut or rebate while Republicans have been pushing for a permanent reduction such as a rollback in the state income tax rate. Whitmer said those discussions are continuing during the Legislature’s summer recess.

As she promised earlier, Whitmer vetoed budget lines that she said encroach on abortion rights. That includes funding for pregnancy centers that try to steer women away from abortion, also money to promote adoption as an alternative to ending a pregnancy, and barring public universities from conducting research using fetal tissue.

“You know, every cycle, that no matter who’s the governor, no matter who’s in the Legislature, that is a part of what happens in negotiations,” she said at the signing ceremony in Detroit. “I don’t think there are any surprises there.”

Republican Senator Jim Stamas chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. He also said the vetoes were no surprise.

“We understood that she had not agreed to the specific language,” he told Michigan Public Radio, “but we were hopeful that it was more focused on helping women and the kids and so we were hopeful that it would go through.”

Whitmer and the Legislature’s GOP leaders are also on opposite sides in court cases litigating abortion rights in the state. Abortion remains legal in Michigan under a Court of Claims order that put a hold on a 1931 state law that bans abortion. Whitmer has also asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rule that abortion rights are protected by the state constitution.

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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