Governor Gretchen Whitmer continues to defend line item vetoes in budgets she otherwise approved last week.
But Whitmer also says it’s not too late to restore some of the spending.
In a letter published Monday in The Detroit Free Press, Whitmer said many of the vetoed items only benefitted lobbyists and vendors. But critics of the vetoes say the effect will be disastrous on human services the governor promised to protect.
Whitmer, a Democrat, says she’s ready to resume bargaining with the Legislature’s GOP leaders on a revised budget.
“I think that conversation is going to continue. Obviously, we’re going to continue to have meetings. I think some of the policy work we’re going to do together will help re-establish some trust.”
Cuts to human services as well as the Pure Michigan tourism promotion program are unpopular with Republicans and Democrats alike. The governor says her calls were tough, but necessary. She also says she’d prefer a more bipartisan approach.
But Whitmer says it’s not too late to restore many of the 147 vetoed line items.
“While everybody wants to put a bow on finality, there’s no such thing in a budget process, and so, yeah, I think this is what I expected as a reaction to actions I had to take,” says Whitmer. “I think this is an unprecedented time. It’s unfortunate. It’s not good for anyone, to be honest.”
The governor says she’s ready to re-open discussions to restore some vetoes as she seeks a tax increase to pay for major road repairs. But she also says many of the vetoes struck out funding that benefits vendors and lobbyists, but not taxpayers.
Republicans say Whitmer’s trying to hold other programs hostage to get her tax hike.
The governor says she’s focused now on updating criminal justice laws to make it easier to clear the records of some offenders. There’s bipartisan support for that effort.