State Representative Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) proposed amendments today to House Bills 5313 and 5314, the fiscal year 2015 General Fund and School Aid Fund budget bills, that would transfer $22 million from a controversial state furniture contract to local schools and place a $1 million cap on bloated state office furniture spending. The proposals are part of a reform package aimed at reining in contract and ethical abuses by the Snyder administration and House Republican lawmakers, and were voted down.
“The fact that these amendments were shot down makes it clear that Michigan Republicans do not share the priorities of Michigan’s middle-class families,” said Dillon, Democratic vice chairman of the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee. “It baffles me that they would rather buy new office furniture than ensure a quality education for Michigan’s children.”
The amendments were brought to the House Appropriations Committee in response to revelations that Snyder administration officials and his controversial NERD fund intervened in the midst of the state’s fiscal year 2012 budget crisis to protect the governor’s cousin, George Snyder, and major financial contributor Haworth Inc. from what could have been a multimillion-dollar cut connected to the state furniture contract. A year later, after House Republicans helped administration officials kill a state Senate budget bill provision to cap furniture purchases for the year at $1 million, the Snyder administration increased a state contract with Haworth by more than $22 million to $41 million.
“I am saddened, but not surprised, that these amendments failed to make it through a committee within the Republican-controlled House,” said state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Democratic vice chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. “In the past, while refusing to scale back new state office furniture purchases, they cut more than $1 billion from education funding, and police and fire protection. Why would we expect anything different now? Republicans have a record of refusing to put Michigan’s middle-class families and kids first.”
House Bills 5313 and 5314 were both voted out of the Appropriations Committee and will now go to the full House for consideration.