LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a supplemental spending bill Tuesday that she says will help Michigan on a number of fronts. Democrats applauded the bill as bipartisan but Republicans complained about a lack of transparency.
So exactly where will the money — more than $1 billion — will go? Most of the money will be for economic development and business attraction. There is $200 million for economic development in the Upper Peninsula, which garnered Republicans votes in the House and Senate from legislators who represent the affected areas.
The governor said there is $100 million for upgrading homes for working-class families, seniors and veterans. Another $75 million will fund smart zones to help small businesses and entrepreneurs. Some $25 million will go to the modernization of the Fruit Ridge Avenue overpass in Walker.
The bill, initially described as an effort to close the books on the last fiscal year, allocated about $145 million for that effort and tacked on another nearly $950 million for the current fiscal year. Most of the spending was unveiled shortly before the vote, leading Republicans to complain about not know what was in the bill.
The governor heaped praise on the new Democratic leaders of the Legislature for their fast action, saying the Republicans who previously led both chambers couldn’t reach a deal on the spending.
“I’m really excited about today. This is historic,” Whitmer said. “And I want to acknowledge that we were working for the last couple of months last year to get a supplemental over the finish line. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get it done. But in a matter of weeks the two of you (House Speaker Joe Tate of Detroit and Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids) got it done and did it in a bipartisan fashion.”
The bill was bipartisan, but only narrowly.
In the Senate, just four Republicans voted in favor. Among them were Sen. Ed McBroom from the Upper Peninsula, which got nearly a quarter of the spending for economic development, and Sen. Mark Huizenga of Walker, who has been working for years to fund the Fruit Ridge bridge work.
In the House, the vote was 60-48, with four Republicans, mostly from northern and upper Michigan, voting for the spending bill and one Democrat voting against.