Before the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Michigan, lawmakers had negotiated a spending bill loaded with costs for legislator hobby horses — spending on particular parks, particular museums, and lots of other one-off items legislators requested. After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced an emergency for the pandemic and ordered people to stay at home, these projects seem even more inappropriate. Gov. Whitmer was right to use her line item veto authority to get rid of this unnecessary spending.
Included in the vetoes were $36.2 million of grants to individual projects. A lot of these items are and ought to be paid for locally instead of through state revenues, like the $250,000 distribution to an arts center in Bay Harbor or $500,000 for a breakfast program in Oakland County.
The governor also vetoed $16 million in funding for the state’s tourism advertising campaign, Pure Michigan. The governor is actively trying to shut down travel right now to stop the spread of the disease, so it’s a bad time to market the state as a place to visit.
House and Senate legislative leaders were coauthors of a joint statement that announced that the governor approved the bill with vetoes. It’s a sign that the pandemic has changed priorities from what they were when the bills were negotiated.
The state’s budget is going to feel the pinch from attempts to stop the spread of the virus. So it is important for lawmakers to reassess their spending decisions and cut nonessential spending.
Here is a list of other policies we developed to address COVID-19 — some of which have already have been adopted.
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