LANSING – State Representative David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) today joined his House Democratic colleagues in voting against legislation that would roll 13 state departmental budgets into a single “omnibus” budget bill. The tactic stifles the openness of the appropriations process, obfuscating and complicating any serious consideration of the details of individual budgets. The House passed the legislation on a 62-48 vote.
“I am beyond disappointed by the approach this budget takes in addressing Michigan’s challenges,” Rutledge said. “The current plan hurts children, retirees, working families, and the middle class without the promise of creating a single job, and eliminates all accountability for how state funds are spent.” The legislation removes the requirement for state departments to report on their activities to the Legislature.
Traditionally, the state budget is considered on a budget-by-budget basis, providing an open process for discussion and debate on the millions to billions of dollars included in each department’s budget. Throughout the budget process, House Democrats submitted more than 120 amendments relating to appropriations and taxes; each of these amendments was defeated, with one exception. This morning, House Republicans released a new 703-page substitute version of a single budget bill, House Bill 4526, that was placed before the House for a vote this afternoon.
“This legislation does not reflect a thoughtful or bipartisan approach to the state budget,” said Rutledge. “This plan is not about ‘right-sizing’ government, or fairness, and it reflects some troubling priorities.” The legislation passed today includes deep cuts to the Department of Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Department of Community Health, among others. The cuts will pay, in part, for the $1.7 billion in business tax cuts proposed by Governor Snyder.
“This is a short-term approach to our state’s problems, and appears to reflect an attempt to shift the costs of state government to our state’s most vulnerable populations,” said Rutledge.