Governor’s budget vetoes put local deputies’ jobs in peril.

October 4, 2019

Sheriff Kim Cole

Governor’s budget vetoes put local deputies’ jobs in peril.

LANSING – Governor Gretchen Whitmer cut the Secondary Road Patrol program as part of her vetoes that slash close to $1 billion from the 2020 state budget Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The program pays for additional deputies to patrol rural roads, and local sheriffs say this could put jobs at stake. In 2018, the program funded salaries for more than 100 deputies across the state. Veto cuts included $13.1 million for secondary road patrol programs.

“I question her ability to cut that funding because the money does not come from taxpayer money,” said Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole. “It’s a separate source. I have already been in contact with our state senator and representative voicing my displeasure. Effectively, if she doesn’t reinstate that money, Mason County could lose one deputy.

“It really hits us smaller agencies,” said Cole. “If you have 100 road deputies, and you lose one it’s not nearly as impactful on communities that only have, say 10 or 12. Effectively, the smaller the number of road patrol, the higher percentage of loss.

“It also affects our jail reimbursement money,” said Cole. “Currently, we get reimbursed for housing parole or certain probation violators. She has cut that as well.  It truly impacts our area.”

Manistee County Sheriff John O’Hagan said the veto will affect his department as well, and he has also been in contact with legislators.

Other controversial funding vetoes include $38 million in higher education tuition grants for independent and private colleges, $10 million for “secure schools,” and $1.6 million for “strict discipline academies.”

Like the secondary road patrol veto, some of the Democratic governor’s cuts appear targeted at rural areas that tend to elect Republican lawmakers, such as $16.6 million for rural hospitals and nearly $8 million to pay for rural obstetricians.

“We have an opportunity to negotiate things back into the budget if the Legislature avails themselves of that opportunity,” Whitmer said during a press conference Tuesday.

Sheriff Cole said he would encourage anyone concerned about the vetoes to call the Governor’s office.

“We need the citizens of our rural communities to contact Gov. Whitmer and tell her she needs to rise above party politics and do what’s right for the citizens of this state,” Cole said.

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