Voice of the People – Whitmer’s line-item setbacks

Jacob Welch, Reporter

The veto – an exceedingly rare power to be only used for the sake of the people, or for the Executive to act as a trustee for the people? 

That’s the question at the heart of the discussion for Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent line-item vetoes over the 2020 fiscal year appropriation bill.

Since the inception of the veto, it’s original intent was to protect some political minority or another. President Grant, the 18th president and the same civil war hero, changed the face of the word in his ‘crusade against pork-barrel spending’, which is a fancy term for when a politician spends more than necessary on their district than others as a means to appease their voters, the veto has taken an entirely new persona. It’s evolution into something both to protect the minority but also to allow the President to act as a trustee – to represent the public – while at the same time doing what they thought was right. 

But that’s been the federal history of the issue, and this is now in state. 

The vetoes have cut the Pure Michigan Program – the campaign spearheaded by certain Republicans to bring more people to Michigan. It’s not just limited to useless programs either, there will be hard-hitting cuts to infrastructure efforts as well – even though Whitmer campaigned on fixing our roads – and public schooling. 

Whitmer is also focusing on what’s not included in the first place. In her own words, she claims to have placed an emphasis on public safety – something that is remarkably still included in the bill and still well funded – over infrastructure, education, and healthcare ironically, contradicting previous sentiments over public safety.

Whitmer has the most vetoes ever in Michigan history according to the GOP, in what she has claimed is a crusade against pork-barrel spending. This thinly veiled excuse has been used time and time again by previous leaders.

Yet it seems Whitmer’s usage of the veto was not some moral outcry against the bill, but establish a new way for the Republican congress to communicate to her: that she’s in charge.

Potentially, this mindset was already seen with Whitmer not getting her way with the road tax earlier this year, which was something that proved dire to Whitmer’s plans of infrastructure overhaul.

Let’s be honest here. When Whitmer has vetoed something over the ‘public health’ but rejects further funding for healthcare, there might be an issue. Her office claims the decision was also to protect the everyday Michigander, but when you’re playing political stunts that could establish a government shutdown due to these vetoes, that’s where I draw the line. These cuts hurt rural communities who are on the end of the stick for these cuts, live off of state funding. Everyone else, as well, are impacted by these decisions in Lansing, hurting the development of communities like our own.

With the cuts to universities in the state, they receive less funding than ever before while at a turning point of education. Local universities are seeing less and less students, while the University of Michigan in it’s 2019 annual education report has become increasingly competitive and increasingly filled with more out of state students – that missing funding hurts.

The ramifications of this bill’s changes by Whitmer has yet to be seen, but conjecture aside it seems like Whitmer’s electoral promises in the election have already eroded away.