State Rep. Pat Outman (R-Six Lakes) voted in opposition to the state budget proposal brought forth by House Democrats in majority on Wednesday.
The representative criticized the plan’s out-of-control measures that churn through taxpayer dollars while requiring little-to-no transparency and accountability.
“The people I represent sent me to Lansing to be a good steward of their tax dollars,” Outman said. “I can’t support a budget that so carelessly funnels their hard-earned money into bloated state departments and unnecessary pet projects. Families are struggling at the hands of inflation, and they could put that money to much better use than the government will.”
Some of the tone-deaf spending measures in the plan include: a new state archaeologist office, $10 million toward new electric vehicles for state employees and $5 million for a program that will incentivize purchasing e-bikes.
In addition to irresponsible spending, Outman said the budget is seriously lacking in transparency and accountability requirements.
By increasing contingency spending limits, the plan gives unelected bureaucrats a nearly blank check to spend money without input from legislators and the people they represent. The plan also strips away important safeguards that allow legislators to act if state department heads spend irresponsibly – allowing unelected bureaucrats to spend large amounts of the people’s money without any oversight or accountability.
The plan also removes an essential reporting requirement that forces state departments to publicly post severance payouts that exceed six weeks of wages. Such payouts earned scrutiny during the state’s COVID-19 response as various department heads within Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration were dismissed with sizable severance packages.
Outman offered an amendment to keep holding schools accountable by requiring school districts to comply with benchmark reporting requirements in order to receive state aid. This requirement currently exists in state law, but the budget plan approved Wednesday removes it. Benchmark reporting is a transparency measure that allows the state to assess learning loss and evaluate how schools are doing, an important part of ensuring Michigan schools perform optimally. Outman’s amendment was rejected, however.
Another rejected amendment Outman pushed for was the inclusion of funding for chronic wasting disease check stations or drop stations in core CWD areas before the 2023 season within the state’s Department of Natural Resources budget.
Despite Outman’s opposition, the budget plan advanced to the Senate for further consideration.
“Michigan families are tired of shelling out for high electric bills and being rewarded with power outages every time it storms. That’s the problem I’m focused on solving,” said Outman, R-Six Lakes, a member of the House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee. “The Democrats in control have another agenda. They’re pushing extreme mandates that cater to the environmental lobby while sticking residents with even higher costs for less reliability.”
The governor plans to give state government the power to permit solar projects by shifting control away from local government.
“Large-scale solar projects could have significant ramifications in some communities. Local officials know what’s best in their unique corners of the state,” Outman said. “The governor should respect their roles and stay out of community-level issues. My Republican colleagues are digging in our heels when it comes to maintaining local control.”