House Republicans Propose New State Budget Structure
The real work is beginning in Lansing on the next year’s fiscal budget and as tensions have risen between the governor and the legislature during the pandemic, they now have to come together to get the budget done.
The self-imposed deadline by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the legislature to have the budget done by the end of June is quickly approaching. This year, the Michigan House Republicans have come up with a new plan. Many departments would only be getting allocated 25% of their budget at a time.
“Most of the budgets are fully funded,” said Representative Scott VanSingel of Grant, “We’re just giving a quarter of it at a time.”
In a split government, budget negotiations are always a major sticking point. The Republicans in the legislature pass a plan, that the Democratic governor agrees to.
This year the House Republicans offered a new strategy, funding some departments quarterly.
“It’s really a negotiating point. What we’ve been frustrated with the governor’s office is we will pass a budget and then the money gets moved around,” said Rep. VanSingel, “And put in places that we never intended as a legislature.”
The departments include Agriculture and Rural Development, Department of Natural Resources, State Department, Civil Rights Department, Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Treasury.
Their budgets will essentially be reconsidered every three months.
“We can still build in for long term projects,” said Rep. Thomas Albert, chair of the House Appropriations, “We just fund them on a quarterly basis.”
The GOP says this makes them more efficient and nimble. Money will still make it to each department as it should, just with more oversight.
“We have to allocate this money at some point,” said Rep. VanSingel, “You will see it go where it was intended for, we’re not going to use fish and game plans to pave roads.”
This is not expected to be the new norm. It may only be for just this year if passed through and then the two sides can get back to the normal budgeting procedures in upcoming years.