Whitmer signs Michigan budget and rejects anti-abortion articles | National policy
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law the final piece of a $76 billion state budget on Wednesday, broadly backing the plan approved by lawmakers but vetoing the money Republicans have funneled into anti-abortion causes, including groups that run “pregnancy resource centers” focused on persuading pregnant women to give birth.
Negotiators met behind the scenes for weeks to hammer out the budget proposal and announced an agreement end of June. But they couldn’t agree on how to cut taxes, which is possible thanks to a flood of federal money and an anticipated rise in tax revenue.
Whitmer, a Democrat, has called for targeted cuts, while Republicans want broader cuts, including lower personal and corporate income tax rates.
Officials estimate that $7 billion in additional revenue is available to account for any tax deals the executives may strike. But it’s unclear where Michigan leaders talk about this position.
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Whitmer reiterated her preference for targeted cuts on Wednesday and said she hoped to make progress when lawmakers return to the Capitol this fall.
“We still have an opportunity ahead of us to do more, and hopefully we can do that,” she said.
The larger budget that Whitmer signed allocates $6 billion for state and local roads, bridges and other transportation projects. It also invests about $2.6 billion in public pension systems.
Whitmer pointed to plans to boost the state’s “rainy day fund” to $1.6 billion as a precaution against an economic downturn. She also pushed lawmakers to focus on infrastructure that will support innovation, health care and the needs of young people across the state, including a state youth psychiatric facility and a cancer research center at the Wayne State University.
The governor also touted the education budget she signed this month, which added $450 to per-student funding for K-12 schools, an increase of about 5.2 percent. The state Department of Education said the per-student commitment of $9,150 is the highest total in Michigan history.
“There is something remarkable about this budget for every community across the state of Michigan,” Whitmer said. “This budget is focused on every part of the state of Michigan and every person in the state of Michigan.”
The governor’s vetoes have largely focused on anti-abortion causes and totaled about $20 million in spending cuts. This is only a small slice of the budget, but it once again demonstrated the marked political divide on the right to abortion in Michigan following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Abortion remains legal in the state by order of a judge in a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood, challenging Michigan’s long-unenforced 1931 law banning abortion unless “necessary to preserve” life.
Whitmer said none of his decisions should come as a surprise to Republicans who control both legislative houses.
His vetoes included $10 million for a marketing program promoting adoption over abortion, $3 million for organizations that promote “childbirth and alternatives to abortion,” and $100,000 for the legal defense of a ban on sex reassignment surgeries or therapies while people are in state prisons.
State Rep. Thomas Albert, a Lowell Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement this week that Whitmer’s vetoes “support only one option for women in pregnancy crisis – the lethal choice of abortion”.
“It’s shocking that the governor and her far-left political base are now so extreme that helping pregnant women who might be considering adoption instead is now a bridge too far,” Albert said.
Foody brought back from Chicago. Cappelletti is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.
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