VanderWall: Governor is using us as pawns in her political game

In a recent op-ed, I wrote of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s dangerous line-item vetoes to the budget the Legislature sent her.

It was my hope and the hope of many others that the governor would realize how destructive her cuts of nearly $1 billion are to hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents.

As I had mentioned in that piece, many of Whitmer’s cuts have adversely affected rural communities and disproportionately harm this region of the state.

This includes the cuts of more than $27 million to payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) to rural northern communities — a particularly disturbing slashing that poses serious risks to rural Michigan communities.

Further cuts affecting us in the rural north include more than $26 million to rural hospitals, including 37 critical access hospitals; $13 million to county sheriff secondary road patrols, which could mean the loss of jobs to deputies whose jobs are completely funded with this money; and $4 million to county veterans services, a cruel cut to those who are serving and have served our state and nation.

Beyond her vetoes, the governor has used a rare administrative tool to cut $650 million to much-needed programs for Michigan families, such as those that assist foster children and people with disabilities.

Whitmer has stated that it is her desire to restore many of these mean-spirited cuts. But talk is cheap; she has given the Legislature no assurance that she will not again use an administrative board to transfer funding — and in the process using those among us with the greatest needs as pawns in her political game.

This is shameful. Senate Republicans have been negotiating with the governor and remain ready to meet with her at any time. But we need assurances that taxpayer dollars appropriated by the Legislature will be directed toward their intended purposes and not be moved around to other programs of the governor’s choosing.

It is within the governor’s ability to restore funding immediately. We must continue to call on her to do so.

I encourage you, once again, to contact the governor’s office and voice your concerns about her veto choices and how they will affect your daily life.

Gov. Whitmer’s constituent services line can be reached at (517) 335-7858.

State Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, is chairman of the Health Policy and Human Services Committee and vice chairman of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. He serves the residents of the 35th Senate District, representing the counties of Benzie, Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon and Wexford. He can be reached at 517-373-1725 or