Governor's Address on State Budget
At 4 p.m. today, I issued an executive directive to the members of my Cabinet who manage the departments of state government.
It instructs them to begin taking the steps necessary to shut down all non-essential state government operations at midnight this Sunday, September 30, when our new fiscal year begins.
The Constitution is clear. Without a balanced budget in place, state government cannot write a single check.
Today, almost eight months after I submitted my budget plan to the Legislature, state lawmakers haven't put a balanced budget on this desk.
Like you, I have been angered by these months of inaction.
But tonight I am hopeful. Productive negotiations are now underway in my office that could head off this government shutdown while there's still time.
We have made significant progress in the last 48 hours, and we've narrowed our differences.
While I'm doing all I can to achieve a budget agreement, there is one thing I will not do.
I will not accept a budget that makes massive cuts to education, health care, and public safety.
Until legislation is passed that protects people and the priorities critical to making Michigan competitive, the possibility of a government shutdown remains real.
If a shutdown occurs, operations that protect the public's health and safety from immediate danger will continue.
Our prisons will keep felons behind bars, and we will maintain vital services for our most vulnerable citizens.
But many services will stop. Secretary of State offices and state parks will close, and road construction projects will be suspended.
Tomorrow, you can go to Michigan.gov for a complete list.
The Legislature has had more than enough time to avert this crisis by adopting a balanced budget - that's the one lawmaking-duty the Legislature is given by the Michigan Constitution.
In February, in my State of the State address, I urged lawmakers to put aside their partisan differences to resolve Michigan's fiscal crisis through a three-part solution.
It involved cuts, government reforms, and revenues.
It wasn't a Democratic plan nor a Republican plan - it was a Michigan plan.
We know our state has been challenged like no other by trade policies that shipped tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs overseas.
And we know Michigan's fiscal policies in the 90s turned a billion dollar surplus into a huge deficit, leaving our state unprepared for the economic tsunami it's faced in this new century.
None of us can change the past.
But given the hand we've been dealt, the combination of cuts, reforms, and revenues is not an option. They are an absolute necessity to put Michigan on the road to economic recovery.
This fundamental truth has been recognized by courageous Republican lawmakers, like Representative Chris Ward, who are willing to join Democrats in a bipartisan solution.
In contrast, some Republican leaders in the Legislature said they could solve our almost $2 billion budget deficit with cuts alone.
But even their own members refused to go along. Understandably, they couldn't vote to take thousands of police officers off the streets, to let class sizes explode in our schools, and to see college tuition rise beyond the reach of Michigan families.
These same leaders have demanded that we adopt a so-called continuation budget so they can have another 30 days to do what the Legislature has failed do to in almost eight months. All a continuation budget does is continue to spend money we don't have. It's not an answer to our fiscal problems, and in fact, it will only make them far worse.
Tonight, there are signs we are on the verge of achieving an historic agreement on a budget that makes Michigan competitive and protects our people.
While the first steps to a government shutdown are now being taken, I will work around the clock to reach that solution.
I have asked the leaders of both parties to meet again this evening and not leave until we have an agreement that resolves this crisis.
And I am asking you, my fellow citizens, to urge your lawmakers to have the courage to compromise, to put their loyalty to Michigan before their loyalty to party.
President Lincoln once warned that "a house divided against itself, can not stand."
Let us all be united as we move through some of the toughest challenges our state has ever faced.
May God bless you, and may God bless the great state of Michigan.