Whitmer: State government won’t partially close next week

Posted at 7:54 PM, Sep 27, 2019

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — There will be no partial shutdown of state government next week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday, after receiving the last of 16 budget bills from lawmakers.

The prospect of a shutdown had seemed unlikely after the Democratic governor agreed this month to no longer link the spending plan to a long-term road-funding proposal. But budget talks with Republican legislative leaders quickly broke down due to a dispute over short-term infrastructure spending, and the Whitmer administration had been planning for a shutdown just in case.

She is still poised to use her line-item veto power Monday after having no input in the final GOP-drafted measures that cleared the Legislature this week and last. The last of the bills got to her desk Friday.

“The Governor will be exercising the powers that she can to get our budget into the best possible shape with what has been presented,” department directors wrote in emails notifying 48,000 state employees that there will be no temporary layoffs starting Tuesday. “Thank you for your continued patience and understanding during what has been a very uncertain process.”

The deadline to sign the nearly $60 billion budget is Monday at midnight.

Whitmer had previously signaled her concerns about a shutdown.

“I don’t view a shutdown as a game. I don’t view it as something that is just a leverage point. I view it as something that’s very serious that would have ramifications for our state,” she said on Sept. 9.

Whitmer has criticized Republicans for proposing to shift $400 million in discretionary general funds to roads and bridges. She says it would not provide nearly enough funding, and Democrats say it would reduce spending on universities, community colleges, prisons, IT upgrades and other functions — potentially leading to permanent layoffs.

GOP lawmakers say their plan would prevent Whitmer’s proposed 45-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax increase and spend a record amount on roads, albeit far less than what experts say is needed. Republican leaders have pledged to again discuss a permanent revenue stream for roads and bridges following enactment of the budget.