State Rep. Phil Green today criticized advancing budget plans that work around representatives of the people, abuse taxpayer dollars and ignore the needs of rural communities.
Green, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee as well as several budget subcommittees, highlighted a 2019 budget provision that protected taxpayers by giving legislators – who serve as a voice for people throughout Michigan – the ability to block the governor and the State Administrative Board from indiscriminately transferring money and essentially rewriting an already approved budget.
Those protections have been removed from the budget measures that moved through the House on Wednesday.
“As written, the governor will be able to rewrite the budget while legislators in both chambers who hear people’s priorities every day can only smile and wave,” Green said when addressing budget plans before the House. “It is a legislator’s constitutional responsibility to create a state’s budget. Many times there are negotiations to get to a final product, but the executive branch then agrees and signs it. Going away from that process is a bad deal for taxpayers who expect transparency and accountability in state government.”
Green also said it was irresponsible to commit over $80 billion to the budget before the state receives revenue estimates – leading to additional questions on what final plans will even look like.
Green supported amendments with key transparency provisions contained in previous budgets related to severance payments and non-disclosure agreements. The provisions worked to expose and prevent ‘hush money’ deals like the governor made with former department heads who left as their agencies struggled to meet the needs of the people during COVID-19. These provisions were not included in the advancing plans.
“I understand that in the private world, severance packages are acceptable. However, the people’s government is not a private company,” Green said. “I was surprised when this happened in 2021 and I couldn’t believe we had to write something this basic into our laws. Now we are enabling this type of activity again.
“I cannot support this plan because it is one that does not uphold our constitutional responsibility of providing a balanced budget. It also does not provide the proper restraints that events over the past four years have proven we need. Representatives of the people should not hand over their powers and responsibilities to the executive branch.”
The House budget plans are contained within House Bills 4244-45, 4246-49, 4280-81, 4286-87, 4289-90, 4292, 4303-04 and 4309-10.
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Phil Green, of Millington, speaks on a state budget plan before the Michigan House on Wednesday, May 10.
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