Opinion: Now that Michigan’s budget impasse is over, let’s make sure it never happens again

Shane Hernandez

Rather than spending time on budget issues that move our state forward, I was forced to spend the last two months as chair of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee undoing damage that was pointless and avoidable.

Whitmer's budgetary actions undermined public safety, Hernandez writes.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget vetoes took away funding for hospitals working to take care of patients in rural areas. Her actions undermined public safety by draining a fund used to help county sheriffs patrol country roads. She vetoed funding for children with autism, for seniors with Alzheimer’s and for people struggling to overcome opioid addiction.

She used the State Administrative Board to funnel money used to support human trafficking victims and at-risk children into her own pet projects with no oversight or accountability.

The governor may have started this unprecedented power grab with the intent to pressure legislators into approving her failed gas tax increase — but her political games had consequences far beyond the state Capitol. The governor didn’t hurt legislators. She hurt the people of Michigan.

In the House, we immediately began working to repair the damage by introducing a series of supplemental budget bills in early October. I am glad to say Whitmer eventually worked with us to reverse the most harmful of her vetoes — a bipartisan agreement outlined in measures approved by the Legislature this week.

This solution restores funding to essential services supporting some of Michigan’s most vulnerable residents. The plan also requires the governor — no matter who the governor is, now and in the future — to work with the Legislature when using the State Administrative Board to make budgetary transfers. The governor’s administration would have to first request that the Legislature’s appropriations committees approve the transfers. If the Legislature does not take action within 30 days, the governor’s transfers take effect.

The Legislature also would have some budgetary transfer powers under the plan.

I am hopeful last week’s agreement is the start of ongoing dialogue and an improved relationship between the Legislature and the governor — one based on mutual trust, cooperation and transparency. I have faith that Republicans and Democrats will continue working together to make our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family.

We should share a common goal of ensuring this type of budget standoff never happens again.

Rep. Shane Hernandez, R-Port Huron, represents the 83rd District in the Michigan House.