News Story

Whitmer calls for 28% cut to Office of Auditor General

Oversight, $38B in federal funds at risk, auditor warns legislative leaders

The official watchdog of Michigan government will get a significant budget cut next year, should the Legislature endorse a recommendation from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive budget.

Auditor General Douglas Ringler wrote a letter March 13 to the four top leaders of the Michigan House and Senate, alerting them to a proposed cut of 28%, or $8.3 million.

Whitmer’s document, Ringler wrote, calls for a $1 million increase in appropriations to his office from the general fund, but substantial cuts in other revenue sources. The executive budget eliminates 23 interdepartmental grants to the office and 13 appropriations from special revenue funds. Cuts to these sources of revenue come to $9.3 million.

Such a cut would have various legal, constitutional, and financial risks, Ringler warned Speaker Joe Tate and Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, both Democrats, along with their Republican counterparts House Minority Leader Matt Hall and Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt. Shrinking the auditor’s budget by 28% would impair its investigations. It also would “result in many instances of conflict with existing state law” and could jeopardize $34 billion in federal funds that are contingent on the state auditing their use.

State law requires that funding for the auditor’s office come largely from special revenue funds and inter-departmental transfers, Ringer told the legislative leaders. As the governor’s proposal calls for, the auditor’s funding would come from the General Fund, set at a $100 placeholder in Whitmer’s proposal.

The House minority leader criticized the governor’s budget document. "The Legislature must reject the governor’s cuts and fully fund the auditor general’s vital work,” Hall said in a press release.

CapCon sent an email to Speaker Tate and Majority Leader Brinks, asking for comment. Neither responded as of the time of publication.

Ringler, a certified public accountant, was appointed to his office for an eight-year term in June 2014 and reappointed in June 2022, in both cases by a legislative majority.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.