Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Steele calls for budgeting transparency to combat abuse of taxpayer dollars
RELEASE|April 9, 2024
Contact: Donni Steele

State Rep. Donni Steele on Tuesday called for a committee hearing on her plan to overhaul the state budgeting process with added transparency measures. The plan would guarantee lawmakers access to appropriations bills long before voting occurs and ban last-minute budget additions without prior approval by either the House or Senate.

Last week, reporting by the Detroit News uncovered allegations of financial mismanagement concerning a $20 million grant awarded directly by the Legislature in 2022 to a metro Detroit businesswoman. Investigations into grant spending revealed numerous high-dollar purchases made with taxpayer dollars.

“This plan is about fairness and transparency across the board,” said Steele, R-Orion Township. “While so many of my colleagues are in Lansing for all the right reasons, there are people in state government who know how to abuse our budgeting system for their own benefit. Opening our process up would mean you don’t have to spend 40 years in this town before you can successfully understand the system and call out the people abusing it.”

The company, Global Link International, didn’t formally exist until the state awarded it $20 million. Since then, taxpayer dollars funded an $11,000 flight to Budapest, a $4,500 coffee maker, and another $130,000 in legal and consulting fees from the company’s first nine months of existence. Grant spending is monitored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, where the businesswoman has sat on the executive committee. However, expenses won’t be reviewed or audited until $10 million is spent.

“Abuse of taxpayer dollars like we see at Global Link International is a perfect example of everything wrong with our budgeting process,” Steele said.  “Anyone serving on the MEDC executive committee should be barred from receiving any state grants due to a clear conflict of interest. We don’t let people receiving unemployment benefits also review their own eligibility claims.”

Steele noted that while the company spent $4,500 on a fancy coffee maker, a new furnace would cost a family around $4,500. That same family could also replace nearly every major household appliance for $4,500. An older used car would cost a working-class person around $4,500.

“Situations like these are exactly why people don’t trust state government,” Steele said. “Regular people have to drive roads filled with potholes, rack up credit card debt, and make difficult budgeting decisions just to get by. Politicians tend to forget just how far $4,500 could go for the average family. It could be life changing. Instead of allowing Michigan residents to keep their hard-earned money, we’re forced to watch as state government hands over tax dollars to rich people making empty promises and drinking fancy coffee while they’re at it.”


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