Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Michigan.gov
Michigan lawmakers passed a $312 billion spending bill that includes measures to help fight the coronavirus but also includes $37 million in "pet projects."
Detroit projects added to the spending bill include grants for $2 million for the Great Lakes Nature Center at Detroit Zoo, $500,000 to replace two elevators for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and $1 million for the North American International Auto Show.
"All of the pet projects should be stripped out of this supplemental budget and should be considered through the normal budget process,” Sen. Jon Bumstead, (R-Newaygo) told The Detroit News on March 12. "Supplemental bills like this are a large part of the reason that people have a huge mistrust in government.”
Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing), denied the allegation that the grants were pork spending. The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee said the bill would fund economic development, public safety and talent investment.
"Anybody who's looked at the stock market should know that we need investment right now in economic development," Hertel told The Detroit News. "These are all important things for Michigan."
Budget feuds stemming from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's vetoing of $947 million from the Legislature’s $59.9 billion budget plan made it into this funding bill. The Pure Michigan tourism campaign used to get more than $37 million in annual funding; this legislation would return $16 million to the campaign.
The spending bill also allocates $500,000 each to three museums: Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills.
Other Detroit "enhancement grants" include $250,000 to help plan a Council of State Governments conference in Detroit later this year; $1 million for the Chaldean Community Foundation; $500,000 for Detroit Public Television Early Childhood Programming; $250,000 for air filters for Detroit Public Schools and another $250,000 for the Children’s Center in Detroit.