Mar 19, 2024 - News

Whitmer proposes deep cuts to state watchdog office

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a fireside conversation with U.S. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen in Detroit last month.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a fireside conversation with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Detroit last month. Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The state's government watchdog wants to know why Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proposing an $8.3 million cut from its annual budget.

Why it matters: The Office of the Auditor General has found performance and financial issues within several state departments in recent years.

Between the lines: The proposed budget cut is the latest point of contention between Whitmer's administration and auditor general Doug Ringler.

What they're saying: Whitmer's proposed 28% cut of the office's $27 million budget would diminish its ability to fulfill federal audit requirements, Ringler told lawmakers.

  • "We received no advance notice of the executive budget reductions and no direct feedback regarding the reason behind them," Ringler wrote in a letter to House and Senate leaders.
  • "In a budget proposal spending more than $80 billion, this cut appears to be a calculated and intentional attack on the only remaining nonpartisan oversight body," House Minority Leader Rep. Matt Hall (R-Richland Township) said in a statement.

Catch up quick: The Office of the Auditor General uncovered deaths in long-term care facilities in 2022 as well as billions in improper payments by the Unemployment Insurance Agency during the pandemic from March 2020 to December 2022.

  • Another audit released last summer revealed the Michigan Department of Education had failed to create procedures to ensure school districts aren't employing people who've been convicted of crimes that prohibit them from working in schools.
  • Another found that the state's civil rights department was slow to investigate claims of discrimination.

The other side: The governor's office declined to comment on the proposed cut and referred questions to the state budget office.

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