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Lansing — Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey reportedly told a group of college Republicans that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic lawmakers are "on the bat s--t crazy spectrum."

Shirkey, R-Clarklake, made the comments at an event earlier this month hosted by the Hillsdale College Republicans, according to a report from the Hillsdale Collegian, the school's newspaper.

The remarks, which were published Thursday, drew immediate backlash from Democrats.

Zack Pohl, Whitmer's communications director, said, "It seems clear that women in power make the Senate majority leader very uncomfortable." Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, posted on social media that Shirkey's comments were "repulsive and flagrantly disrespectful."

Shirkey quickly apologized for the outburst.

"It was a flippant remark and a poor choice of words," spokeswoman Amber McCann said Thursday. "Sen. Shirkey regrets the characterization."

Shirkey's remarks at Hillsdale, a conservative liberal arts college, come as Whitmer and the GOP legislative leaders try to find a solution to a budget standoff that's left students, nonprofit groups, sheriff's departments and rural hospitals waiting on state funding.

Whitmer made nearly $1 billion in vetoes at the end of September to budget bills approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature. Her administration said the budget bills didn't do enough to fund roads, communities and schools and hoped the vetoes would draw Republican lawmakers back to the negotiating table.

Instead, the vetoes and another $625 million in administrative transfers within the Legislature's approved departmental budgets have set off a debate over the powers of the governor's office.

"My governor has the two Democratic caucuses fairly locked up," Shirkey also said during the Hillsdale event, according the college newspaper's report. "They sit around and wait for her to call them and tell them to do this or do that."

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said he was offended and disappointed by Shirkey’s remarks.

"Sen. Shirkey’s comments indicate that he has zero interest in righting wrongs and working together to move our state forward, and I find that very unfortunate," Ananich said. "There is a lot of work to do, and I will continue working with anyone who is willing to deliver results for the people of Michigan."

McMorrow added that she's introduced 12 bills so far

"I've reached out to colleagues to ask them to collaborate on bipartisan ideas and have been rebuked. None of us are sitting around waiting for anything," she said on social media. "We're trying to do our jobs."

The stalemate continues this week as Republican lawmakers remain on fall break and Whitmer is on an official trip to Israel.

cmauger@detroitnews.com

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