State Rep. Dave Prestin on Wednesday voted against a wasteful spending plan that drains the state’s multibillion-dollar surplus, creates new, unnecessary programs, and neglects the most essential needs in Michigan communities. Despite his opposition to the overall budget, Rep. Prestin was able to help secure critical funding for a U.P. project.
“We managed to secure $7.3 million in funding for renovations on the Helen Newberry Joy Hospital in Luce County,” said Prestin, of Cedar River. “I fought tirelessly to secure funding for Helen Newberry, and the hospital now has a path to great success. I was also able to help secure $200 million in funding for the Billerud project earlier this year, which will help bring vitality to Escanaba for generations to come.”
Upper Peninsula families and residents continue to struggle with the highest cost-of-living increases seen in decades, on top of rampant inflation and ongoing threats to their natural resources, and energy supply.
“When I first entered the Legislature, our state had a $9 billion surplus,” Prestin said. “As lawmakers, we had a prime opportunity to deliver on the expectations from those who elected us to Lansing with this budget. Those in majority, however, opted to grow government with a bloated and unsustainable spending plan.
“A decade of strong Republican leadership led to responsible financial planning by the state. We should be returning this money to hard-working Michiganders, and utilizing it in their best interests.”
Prestin pinpointed specific concerns in the budget, including:
- Funding for more than 1,000 new bureaucrats — positions that will be difficult to eliminate in future years if funds aren’t available.
- Authorization of $500 million for future spending into the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve which pays money for corporate welfare that have yet to be identified.
- Subsidies for wind, solar, and other unnecessary energy projects, with more than $100 million for various energy programs – while still not providing reliable, affordable energy.
- Spending $125 million on “clean” buses which are unreliable for expansive rural school districts.
- Expansion of the school meal program, a previously needs-based program that will instead provide free food, even for kids from the wealthiest families when fully phased in.
- Increase of burdensome groundwater fees on Michigan small businesses who are already struggling.
- Undermining of key transparency requirements, weakening reporting requirements on state employee remote work while our state buildings have remained virtually empty since 2020.
“While I am pleased to have brought home some victories for our district, I could not in good faith vote for a bloated spending plan that does not reflect the needs of my constituents, especially given the lack of transparency throughout the budget process,” Prestin said. “Traditionally, the minority party is included in negotiations, but this time we were kept in the dark until just two hours before the budget vote.
“This rushed timeline was incredibly challenging given the record-high $81.7 billion budget, which consisted of a whopping 1600 pages. Allowing us just two hours to digest the details is a blatant attempt to shield key information from both lawmakers, and the public, who deserve to know how their hard-earned money is being spent.”
Despite Prestin’s no vote, the budget passed both chambers Wednesday and now heads to the governor for further consideration.
“The governor signed away the future of the Upper Peninsula to please climate activists, not considering the factories that this will close and the families who will struggle to afford their heat in the middle of winter. Public utilities will be forced to spend millions on preposterous renewable energy credits to become compliant with these radical new laws. These additional expenses will be passed down to consumers who can’t afford their energy bills as it is.”
“These bills are precisely the opposite of what the U.P. and Michigan needs,” said Prestin, R-Cedar River. “The most urgent need is to reduce costs and increase reliability. Even if the tiny contribution Michigan makes to global emissions mattered, which it doesn’t, this plan will make living and working here harder for our residents.”
“Democrats just spent two weeks passing legislation that will wreak havoc across Michigan. Now, they’re tucking their tails, ignoring their duty to the voters, and running out of town. We are a full-time legislature. It’s been forty years since we’ve adjourned as early as Democrats did this week.”
“Our medical first responders and emergency medical technicians have reached a critical shortage in people interested in doing the work,” Prestin said. “This legislation would allow EMS agencies to advance the next generation of this crucial profession. We already allow high school students to train for these jobs. This package just ensures that those recruits can get into the workforce when they complete their coursework instead of waiting until their eighteenth birthday.”