LaFave: Michigan House votes to restore funding for local governments, veterans services

Published: Dec. 4, 2019 at 6:15 PM EST
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State Rep. Beau LaFave and the Michigan House Thursday approved a budget plan to reverse many of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s politically motivated budget vetoes – a key step in the effort to restore funding for local governments, law enforcement, veterans services and other vital programs.

Whitmer cut nearly $1.6 billion in Legislature-approved funding. The House votes today advance the chamber’s efforts to restore much of this critical funding statewide, fending off the governor’s desperate attempts to force her proposed 45-cent per gallon gas tax hike.

A measure sponsored by LaFave – restoring $4 million to the County Veteran Service Fund to help connect veterans with the benefits they have earned throughout their military service – was incorporated into the new House-approved budget. LaFave said his plan will better connect veterans to county veteran service officers and accredited case agents, especially in rural parts of Michigan where access is vitally important.

“These departments and service officers do a fantastic job connecting our military heroes with services through referrals to local and state agencies and assisting them with federal benefit claims,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “I was in utter disbelief when the governor decided to hold these offices and the services they provide to our veterans hostage for her ridiculous 45-cent gas tax increase. Our veterans deserve better, and as chair of the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee, I did not hesitate to introduce legislation to restore this funding.”

The budget plan also would reverse several cuts made to programs that fund law enforcement services – including the governor’s $13 million in cuts to sheriff’s deputies. The funding was necessary to ensure no deputies were fired due to the governor’s reckless actions.

“When it comes to the safety of the public, there’s no way we can let the governor’s foolish cuts stand,” LaFave said. “Her rejection of money to retain sheriffs’ deputies to patrol local roads would make our communities less safe. As governor, her number one priority should be protecting the residents of Michigan, not holding them hostage.”

LaFave also joined the House in restoring over $27 million to the payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) program. The program compensates counties for public lands that do not pay taxes, such as forest reserves and swamps.

“The simple truth is Gov. Whitmer singlehandedly created this budget mess and put our communities at risk,” LaFave said. “The people of Michigan have spoken and agree the governor went too far with her budget vetoes. I hope the governor has taken a moment to reflect on her poor decision and that’s why I am working to give her a second chance to do the right thing and reverse her hurtful spending cuts.”

LaFave said other key components of the new House budget plan include:

• Over $17 million for the medical school loan repayment program for primary care residents working in underserved areas. LaFave said this will attract more medical professionals to set up practice in the Upper Peninsula.

• Roughly $3 million for the Department of Insurance and Financial Services to hire additional employees to help implement the car insurance reforms signed into law earlier this year.

• Nearly $60 million for rural health care and critical access hospitals

• Restoring $600,000 to local governments for search and rescue, medical support, damage assessment and assistance during natural or man-made disasters.

• An additional $7 million for Michigan’s rural and isolated school districts to assist with transportation costs.

The budget plan approved by the House now advances to the Senate for further consideration.