Whitmer uses board to shift $625M, details her vetoes

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer further shaped the new state budget Tuesday, taking a rare step to shift $625 million within departments while outlining some of her major vetoes, including funding for the Pure Michigan tourism campaign and a $240 per-student increase in aid to hundreds of charter schools.

The Democrat signed the $59 billion spending plan Monday while issuing 147 line-item vetoes totaling $947 million to the Republican-passed proposal. She declared 72 provisions unenforceable.

“I do not relish using these powers. But they were absolutely necessary because the budgets they sent were fatally flawed,” Whitmer said after using a state board to transfer funds between individual agencies. The maneuver was last used in 1991.

The nearly $1 billion in stripped funding could ultimately still be included in the budget pending negotiations that Whitmer wants to restart on Thursday.

“Everyone in the Legislature should know that a line-item veto is not the death knell for any individual item, if people get back to the table and negotiate,” she said.

Talks between the first-year governor and GOP legislative leaders broke down weeks ago because of a dispute over short-term spending on roads after the two sides had agreed to table discussions on a long-term plan. Her largest single veto was a $375 million shift in discretionary general funds to the $5 billion transportation budget.

Whitmer said it would not solve Michigan’s road-funding problem, as it amounted to “less than 20% of the cost for one year, when a 10-year plan to actually fix this is $2.5 billion of ongoing funding.”

Republicans said the funding would have boosted road repairs without her proposed 45-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax hike or cuts to essential services.

“The governor is trying to go around the legislators elected to be the voice of the people in state government and change how we invest taxpayer dollars,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Shane Hernandez, a Port Huron Republican.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Clarklake Republican, said Tuesday that he was in “no rush” to address Whitmer’s vetoes.

“There is no amount of red pen usage that will result in enough green buttons pushed in the Senate to get my Governor what she wants,” he said in a written statement.

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