News Story

State Employee Morale Drops As State Spending Rises

Gov. Whitmer is concerned

Public officials frequently make assertions that go unchallenged in the media.

Before giving her State of the State speech on Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told the Detroit Free Press that budget restrictions had hurt office morale for state of Michigan employees.

“State government workers suffer from low morale and inadequate resources after years of budget restrictions,” Whitmer told the Detroit Free Press.

The budget claim deserves a closer look.

A large part of the tax revenue Michigan state government collects each year is distributed to public schools, and a smaller portion is shared with municipal governments. But the part that isn’t earmarked or allocated elsewhere has grown from 2011 to 2017, and above the rate of inflation.

The largest portion of state government revenue that is not transferred elsewhere but kept for its own use has risen from $12.3 billion in 2011 to $13.7 billion in 2017, and that’s after adjusting for inflation. This represents a spending increase that added $1.4 billion to 2017’s budget compared to six years earlier, in real, inflation-adjusted terms.

The financial data comes from the state of Michigan reports for 2017 and 2011.

Whitmer’s office didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.