Michigan Legislature OKs undoing budget vetoes; both sides optimistic

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) (12/4/2019) - The Republican-led Legislature passed bills Wednesday that would restore more than half of the proposed spending that was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer two months ago, a sign that Michigan’s budget impasse may soon end.

Legislation that would undo 27 of the 147 line-item vetoes, or roughly $574 million of $947 million that was nixed, unanimously cleared the Senate.

The House passed similar bills 104-1 and 103-2, setting the stage for final votes at a later date if an agreement is struck related to the powers of the State Administrative Board.

A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said the votes were the “most optimistic sign” since October of progress among Shirkey, House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Whitmer, “but there’s still work to be done.”

The trio had not resolved Republicans’ push to limit a governor’s ability to unilaterally transfers funds within a department through the board, which Whitmer did on Oct. 1.

Whitmer vetoed an unprecedented amount of funding on Sept. 30 after being sent a budget without her input following a breakdown over road funding.

The bills approved Wednesday would restore funds for charter schools, rural K-12 districts, hospitals, jails, sheriff’s offices, local governments, various nonprofits and other programs.

“It’s an excellent step forward and probably the best sign we’ve had since certainly October that we’re moving forward and working together,” said Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., an East Lansing Democrat.