LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives approved state budgets yesterday for Fiscal Year 2019-20. While there were various areas where legislators on both sides were able to agree on the proposals, there were many budgets that fell short for the people of Macomb County.
“I am very tired of the legislative majority continuing to send Macomb County pennies to fix the roads,” said state Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights), who voted against the MDOT budget. “The consistent message from the people of my district has been that they are fed up with the state of their roads, and they know exactly what it will take to fix things – adequate funding from the state, which would require significant changes to PA 51. We are tired of our tax dollars we pay at the pump here being used to fix roads outside of South East Michigan. Despite this, the legislative leadership continues to ignore calls for change and propose funding increases that are insults to Macomb County residents. On top of this lack of funding, they also came after workers with attempts to limit their ability to participate in contracts if they take part in collective bargaining. They do this when we are in the middle of a massive UAW strike. With a marginal increase in road funding and an attack on workers' rights, I was simply given no other choice but to vote no."
State Rep. John Chirkun (D-Roseville) voted against the proposed budget for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), citing legislative leadership’s continued lack of support for mental health providers in the county.
“The DHHS is responsible for ensuring the health and well-being of our families throughout the state”, said Chirkun. “So what does it say if we refuse to allocate the funds necessary for them to effectively do their jobs? Similar to last year, this budget also results in decreased mental health funding for Macomb County. The people of Michigan and Macomb County deserve better than this.”
Almost all House Democrats voted against the proposed General Government budget, which among other things, fell short of fully funding Gov. Whitmer’s proposed increases for revenue sharing to local communities.
“Revenue sharing is essential to ensuring our communities are able to provide residents with the services they expect and deserve,” said state Rep. Bill Sowerby (D-Clinton Township) Unfortunately, the general government budget proposed by the Republican legislative leadership falls well short of what communities need. My constituents expect quality public safety and services, but communities cannot provide that without adequate revenue sharing. I chose to stand up for local communities and voted in opposition to this budget and will continue to fight for all communities to be given the resources they need to prosper.”
House Democrats unanimously voted against the proposed budget for the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), noting a lack of funding for hiring actuaries to enforce provisions in the auto no fault reform bill passed earlier this year to provide auto insurance rate relief to the people of Michigan.
“With the auto no-fault reform legislation Michigan’s Legislature passed earlier this year, we made a promise to Michigan residents that insurance policies would be appropriately reviewed by DIFS to ensure reasonableness and compliance with the new law,” said state Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren). “But the budget that passed today fails to allocate the necessary funding to provide adequate staffing for this process to occur in a timely manner. Michigan needs to fund the fixes they promised.”
One area where the majority of the House was able to agree, however, was the proposed budget for the newly formed Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The budget includes $120 million in funding for cleaning up the state’s drinking water and curbing the spread of PFAS chemicals.
“Residents of Macomb County have long been aware of the impact the quality of our water has on our lives,” said state Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores). “I’m happy to see the EGLE budget includes funding for our drinking water protection and innovation, especially to address PFAS and lead concerns. I look forward to working with the department on using this money to protect and preserve Lake St. Clair and all our state’s water sources.”
The budgets now move to the governor’s desk for consideration.