News Bite

New York Times Says Whitmer Reversed Underinvestment; Her First Budget Had Decade’s First Decline

State spending increased for nine consecutive years but that ended with Whitmer’s first budget

The New York Times made a claim that the state of Michigan has a “long history of underinvestment in the state and its citizens.” But that’s not supported by state budget data, if “underinvest” means “spending less.” State budgets going back 10 years show an increase in state dollars being spent, even after adjusting for inflation.

The New York Times made its claim in a June 25 news article about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: “By late May, it was becoming clear to Whitmer that instead of being the governor who reversed Michigan’s long history of underinvestment in the state and its citizens, she might well be one who accelerated the process.”

Spending from state government dollars (not including local or federal dollars) increased for nine consecutive years from 2009-10 through 2018-19, even when accounting for inflation. That’s according to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. The streak snapped in 2019-20 with Whitmer’s first budget, when total state spending declined in inflation-adjusted terms.

In the 2009-10 fiscal year, the state spent the equivalent of $30.09 billion in current dollars. By 2018-19, state spending had risen to $34.85 billion. The rise ended in the first state budget signed by Whitmer, which authorized $34.78 billion in state spending for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2019.