State Rep. Andrew Beeler on Thursday called out Michigan Democrats for wasting taxpayer dollars on irresponsible programs and pork projects instead of using the state’s historic surplus wisely to address the state’s needs.
Beeler, R-Port Huron, noted that the Democrats’ $81.7 billion budget will only be balanced if Democrats raise the income tax back up — after Beeler helped secure a tax cut earlier this year. Beeler’s comments come as the governor signed the $24.3 billion portion of the budget for schools and higher education, which spends billions on unnecessary programs and projects instead of investing in the classroom.
“If Democrats are going to have to hike taxes to pay their bills, then they shouldn’t be racking up a tab with pork,” Beeler said. “But they decided to spend money they don’t have on programs and pet projects that Michigan doesn’t need, all while leaving actual needs unmet. The new school budget puts this irresponsible spending on full display. Democrats picked $2 billion in unnecessary programs and pork for favored schools, instead of investing another $1,400 for each student. These reckless tax-and-spend choices by Democrats show a total disregard for kids who are struggling to catch up and succeed.”
Beeler secured an income tax cut for every Michigander and small business this spring, but the Democrats’ budget won’t be balanced unless the new 4.05% income tax rate is raised back to 4.25% next year. Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel in March ignored the clear language, history, and legislative intent of the law and decided that the tax cut will only last for one year. Legislative Democrats then baked the tax hike into their bloated spending plan.
Democrats added $2 billion of spending on pork and other new programs into the school budget, which was released publicly only hours before the vote. If Democrats had instead invested $2 billion in Michigan classrooms to help kids learn, the budget would provide an additional $1,360 for every Michigan student. This would amount to $10,968 per pupil, but Democrats opted for wasteful spending over students. For example, instead of providing an additional $83 per student, the Democrats spent $125 million on green buses that simply don’t work for expansive rural communities.
The budget also eliminates dedicated funding for school resource officers (SROs), who build relationships with students as they protect Michigan schools. The Democrat budget provides $25 million to begin providing free meals to children from wealthy families instead of only those who need the assistance — funding that could instead have restored the dedicated $25 million for school resource officers.
Democrats created a $10 million program to teach high school students how to fill out free forms, resources that could have equalized public school student funding and make up the $9.8 million underfunding of some cyber charter school students who were treated unfairly in Democrats’ budget. Other unnecessary earmarks for politically connected projects include: $225 million to pay off student loan debt, $4 million for enrolling kids in the free Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, $5 million for a TV station, $4 million for one particular school roof in Wyoming, $1 million for a “zen zone” for staff at one district to de-stress, and funding for a select few driver’s education courses and pools.
“The budget process is out of control. We are spending more and more money and are giving people less and less transparency. This is exactly why people do not trust government,” said Beeler, R-Port Huron.