The latest budget signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the highest state per-student investment in Michigan history—including more than $500 million in school infrastructure and expanded mental health resources for children. (Courtesy/Gov. Gretchen Whitmer)
The latest budget signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the highest state per-student investment in Michigan history—including more than $500 million in school infrastructure and expanded mental health resources for children. (Courtesy/Gov. Gretchen Whitmer)

MICHIGAN—This week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed one more component of Michigan’s record-setting $76 billion general budget: the $54.8 billion operating budget. Last week, she signed the $22 billion education budget, and while there’s bipartisan support for the spending plans, along with about $7 billion remaining in surplus, Whitmer was deliberate about what she would not sign off on – more than $25 million that the GOP-led Legislature had earmarked to prey on people considering abortions in Michigan.

For context:

The governor can veto specific items, called line items, from a budget before it’s signed and put into effect.  

What did Whitmer veto?

From the education budget: 

  • $1 million that would have gone to pregnant and parent student services at colleges and universities that aren’t allowed to refer pregnant students for an abortion 
  • $5 million that would have gone to embryonic studies at universities that don’t allow stem cells derived from aborted fetal tissue to be used in scientific research

She also vetoed items in the Department of Health and Human Services budget, including: 

  • $10 million for marketing adoption programs that promote adoption as an abortion alternative
  • $2 million in tax credits for adoptive parents 
  • $3 million for nonprofits to run a “maternal navigator pilot program” that promotes childbirth and abortion alternatives
  • $1.5 million for “pregnancy resource centers,” which Whitmer’s spokesperson, Bobby Leddy, has said use “deceptive advertising to target” those seeking abortions.
  • $700,000 for Real Alternatives, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that provides funding to anti-abortion pregnancy centers in Michigan.

What did Whitmer keep in the budget?

Here is a taste of what the 2023 budget includes: 

  • $580 million to increase base per-pupil funding from $8,700 to $9,135, the largest increase in state history
  • $230 million for two education infrastructure projects centered on cancer research and the future of electrification and mobility
  • $222 million to support economically disadvantaged students 
  • $110 million for Michigan Reconnect and Going Pro, putting people on tuition-free paths to higher-education or jobs training
  • $8.3 million for income assistance to low-income families with children five years old or younger
  • $10.5 million for child welfare services
  • $50 million for statewide nutritional and food bank support 
  • $75 million for Michigan community financial development institutions, which promote economic revitalization and development in underserved areas of the state
  • $50 million for food and agriculture economic development to attract investment and jobs in these key industries
  • $75 million to remove vacant and unused structures and houses
  • $50 million for non-profit relief to help local organizations continue providing critical services
  • $40 million for Pure Michigan campaign to boost tourism across local economies

In context:

From Bobby Leddy, Gov. Whitmer’s spokesperson: 

“Gov. Whitmer supports legislation that provides every possible resource to women who are pregnant, seeking to start a family, or those who aren’t ready yet, but she cannot support aspects of a bill that sends millions in taxpayer dollars to fake health centers that intentionally withhold information from women about their health, bodies, and full reproductive freedom.”

Leddy told the Detroit Free Press that some groups “often purport to offer comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, but don’t, preying on women at a vulnerable time in their lives.”

What else has Whitmer done to protect abortion access? 

  • Filed a lawsuit and asked the Michigan Supreme Court to recognize abortion as a constitutional right
  • Signed an executive directive where she ordered: 
    • Departments and agencies to review where they could step in to increase protections for reproductive healthcare and take those steps, including: 
      • Ensuring care for those who have miscarriages
      • Safeguarding the privacy of those who seek health care 
      • Help protect reproductive health care providers 
      • Provide comprehensive information on the cost and availability of reproductive health care 
      • Adopt measures to increase public awareness about the availability and safety of contraception
      • Departments and agencies with enforcement responsibilities must decline to cooperate with or assist the authorities of any state in any investigation against an individual for obtaining or providing, or assisting another to obtain or provide, any reproductive health care that is legal under the law of the jurisdiction where the care was provided
  • Signed an executive order protecting those who travel to Michigan to provide, assist or receive an abortion from extradition.

Worth noting: