Michigan budget director resigns
Lansing — “Grandpa’s homesick,” Michigan Budget Director Al Pscholka said Friday as he announced his resignation from Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, also hinting at “other political considerations” including another potential run for office.
The Stevensville Republican and former state legislator is expected to stay on through the end of February, helping Snyder present his final state budget proposal before term limits force him out of office at year’s end.
Strategy Director John Walsh will replace Pscholka in March and oversee annual budget negotiations with lawmakers.
Pscholka, appointed by Snyder in January of 2017, told The Detroit News he always planned to help the governor complete one budget and prepare a second before “taking a look at the future to see what that has to offer.”
While he has no immediate job prospects, Pscholka lives in the same district as term-limited state Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph.
“We’ll see,” Pscholka said when asked if he’ll run for the open seat. “I want to take some time with family.”
His pending departure is the latest shake-up in the Snyder administration, which is not unusual in the final year of a governor’s tenure. Michigan Agency for Energy Director Valerie Brader announced her resignation Tuesday, indicating she intends to join a law firm and head a new consulting company.
Pscholka said there are political opportunities he may “take a look at, but in order to do that, you can’t really be employed in state government.”
And before he makes any decision, Pscholka said he wants to take some time off to reconnect with family and his community.
“I know this is going to sound corny, but I kind of miss singing in Rotary and Michigan sunsets and have been living kind of in two places for the last seven or seven-and-a-half years, he said. “It’ll be good to say ‘hi’ to the wife and kiss the grandbaby.”
Snyder praised Pscholka in a statement announcing his pending resignation, saying he served “with honor and distinction for many years in several roles, not the least of which was helping to improve the state’s financial strength as budget director.”
Pscholka is expected to join Snyder next month as he presents his fiscal year 2019 budget proposal to state lawmakers. Walsh, also a former state legislator and Livonia Republican, will take over from there.
As Snyder’s strategy director since 2015, Walsh has “done great work on our policy initiatives, from concept to development to execution,” the governor said. “I am confident that his experience and expertise will help us complete our eighth and final budget as successfully as the past seven.”
Angela Ayers, who previously served as Snyder’s special adviser on the environment, will replace Walsh as director of strategy. She currently serves as deputy director in the governor’s Strategic Policy Office and deputy director of the Office of the Great Lakes.
The 2019 budget debate is already heating up in Lansing as Republican legislators develop tax cut plans despite looming pressures and warnings from Pscholka and Treasurer Nick Khouri.
The tax cut debate could go on into the spring, Pscholka predicted, calling the budget director position that Walsh will inherit a year-round job.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes on 12 months of the year, every day, working with the departments and making sure everything is where it needs to be,” he said. “There’s really a lot of talent in that office.”
Walsh will be Snyder’s fourth budget director in eight years. Initial Director John Nixon stepped down in 2014 to take a high-ranking university job in his home state of Utah. Former Director John Roberts left in early 2017 for a private-sector job with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
“We have a lot of work still to do in 2018, so it’s going to be a busy year,” Walsh said in a statement.