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Michigan State Budget Deal Unlikely to Happen this Month

Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer went from being hopeful a budget deal was in sight to disappointed the effort had fallen through. Political leaders had been working on a supplemental deal but it fell apart too.

(TNS) — For those hoping lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could tie up loose ends of Michigan’s state budget before an upcoming legislative break, the forecast isn’t looking good.

The Michigan House had scheduled a tentative session date for Wednesday this week, but will not take attendance or hold votes. The Michigan Senate met Tuesday and are expected to take votes during a Wednesday session, but little has changed since the latest falling out over the governor’s powers to shift funds last week.

After this week, the legislature won’t be back in regular session until early December - both chambers are taking a two-week recess that coincides with the state’s firearm deer hunting season and Thanksgiving.

But the House is scheduling a standing session date for Wednesday, Nov. 20 in case a budget deal is in reach by then, said Gideon D’Assandro, spokesperson for House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering.

Last Thursday, Whitmer went from being hopeful a budget deal was in sight to disappointed the effort had fallen through in a matter of hours. The administration and legislative leaders had been working on negotiating supplemental spending legislation, but negotiations were scuttled after the Senate adjourned for the day.

Whitmer and Republican lawmakers have disagreed on whether the governor’s power to shift funding within departments administratively should be checked after Whitmer signed the state’s budget with 147 line-item vetoes worth $947 million and shifted $625 million within departments through the State Administrative Board.

Republicans have argued Whitmer interfered with the legislature’s power to decide how state dollars are spent when she used the administrative board to shift funds.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake, is only willing to accept a deal if new terms for the governor’s powers are written into state statute, spokesperson Amber McCann reiterated Tuesday, noting many groups who have relied on the governor’s promises had their program funding cut.

“The Majority Leader and his colleagues took an affirmative vote to fund those programs, the governor chose to defund those programs,” McCann said. Senate Republicans are concerned “about taking any affirmative action that the governor could again undo without some kind of agreement,” she continued.

Lawmakers will have to live with the consequences if an agreement isn’t reached, said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint. He said he’s hopeful communication can continue over the legislative recess, but he’s concerned there’s an unwillingness to budge.

“I’m less and less optimistic that we’re going to solve it,” he said. “If stripping the governor of her powers is more important than finding an equitable solution, then I guess that’s where we’re at.”

©2019, Walker, Mich.. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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