By Triston Cole
Gov. Whitmer cut $1 billion in essential programs from the budget the Legislature approved. She targeted her political opponents with these cuts to get her gas tax approved.
The cuts affect all parties. Families in rural northern Michigan may suffer the most.
$1.96 million in PILT funding
“Payment in lieu of taxes” replaces revenue lost on tax-exempt land owned by the state, including public-owned property controlled by the DNR. Local governments use this to provide public services people rely on daily.
Whitmer’s veto eliminated $249,788 for Antrim County, $344,419 for Charlevoix County, $478,531 for Otsego County, $262,407 for Oscoda County and $630,855 for Montmorency County. The region from Traverse City to Sault Ste. Marie will lose more than $8 million of PILT.
$7 million for remote schools
For more than 15 years, the state provided small, isolated school districts with 7.7 or fewer pupils per square mile additional funding to offset higher costs for transportation. The budget included a tiered formula for a wider distribution of funds this year. Gov. Whitmer eliminated all funding.
Thirteen schools in the 105th House District relied on this: Vanderbilt Area Schools, Fairview Area Schools, Atlanta Community Schools, Mio-AuSable Schools, Alba Public Schools, Johannesburg-Lewiston Area Schools, Boyne Falls Public School District, Bellaire Public Schools, Central Lake Public Schools, Ellsworth Community School, Mancelona Public Schools, East Jordan Public Schools and Hillman Community Schools. Each district counted on an additional $51 per student.
If the program expanded, Charlevoix Public Schools would receive an additional $38 per student and Elk Rapids Schools $26 per student.
Rural police patrols
Whitmer eliminated $13 million for the secondary road patrol program. The program, created in 1978, provides grants allowing local sheriffs to hire deputies to patrol rural roads.
$56 million to improve rural health care
Michigan’s 35 critical access hospitals provide quality health care services, but inadequate Medicaid reimbursement leaves many struggling to provide care. The budget included $34.2 million to cover reimbursement for critical access hospitals, including Munson Healthcare in Charlevoix. The budget also included an additional $8 million for rural hospitals to provide obstetrical care and $16.6 million for care to low-income residents. Whitmer gutted all this.
The Legislature approved support for health care clinics on Beaver Island, Mackinac Island and Drummond Island — from $525,000 to $675,000. Whitmer eliminated all funding for these vital medical services for residents and visitors.
Pure Michigan campaign
Whitmer eliminated $37.5 million for Pure Michigan, which enhanced our tourism industry and economy for years. In 2017, visitor spending supplied Michigan with a return of nearly $9 for each dollar spent on the Pure Michigan campaign. Travelers spent $2.1 billion that year, supporting local businesses and jobs throughout northern Michigan.
Rural job providers
Whitmer vetoed $10 million the legislature reserved for the Rural Jobs and Capital Investment Fund, which aims to boost struggling economies by helping small job creators in rural counties access loans and investors.
These programs aren’t “pet projects,” as the governor claimed. These programs benefit real people. The governor shouldn’t use them as political bargaining chips.