Lawmakers Rush $1 Billion Surplus Spending Bill Through Lansing

The legislature in Lansing is setting up for a major spending spree and a sign of support for a major project in northern Michigan.

Wednesday is expected to be the final voting day for the State House and Senate before Election Day and the legislature is using it to spend $1 billion.Lansing Spending Pkg 9 28 2200 00 56 16still001

It was enough money to force a member of the leadership team to resign from his powerful committee chair position.

The state has money to spend, about $7 billion worth of surplus left over from the finalized budget. Many want to use it for long term investments while others want to save it.

That is the first choice for House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert.

“I will be resigning as Appropriations Chair,” Rep. Albert said at the end of the committee meeting Wednesday morning.

He was the loudest critic of the choice to spend the extra money.

“For a number of reasons, chief among them is we are entering a global recession,” said Albert, “We have no idea how sharp the regression will be.”

“The economy is slowing down and we’re seeing that and that will probably mean lowering tax revenues in the future,” Said Rep. Scott VanSingel of Grant, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, “I’m a believer we do need to keep a good amount of that on the balance sheet, in case of a rainy day or just unexpected events.”

Ultimately the supplemental bill passing through the Capitol is $1.03 billion. A vast majority, $846 million, will be going to the state SOAR fund, the pool of money used to attract businesses.

“Every state in the country has some sort of economic incentive so we can stand by our principles and say ‘I don’t like this, it violates free market principles and be dead last in economic growth,” said Rep. VanSingel, “Or we can play the game.”

The expectation is a good amount of that will go to the Gotion Inc, the battery manufacturer looking to build near Big Rapids. It’s a reason VanSingel was willing to vote ‘yes,’ despite having this bill drop out of nowhere.

“As a member, I’m just seeing this for the first time today,” said VanSingel.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer reportedly asked for the additional SOAR funds and negotiated behind closed doors with leadership. This was another reason Albert was displeased and another warning sign for legislators.

“I don’t think that’s a good process,” said VanSingel, “In the end the policy may be good but it doesn’t look good to the public having these conversations going on in secret.”

A decision on the state incentives for the battery plant will come at a future date.

Categories: Election 2022