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Election Integrity News Blog


Your 2022 Vote Will Cost You $1,800 a year in Pork Barrel Spending

by Alex Weddon, MFE writer | August 7, 2023

By Alex Weddon, MFE investigative reporter | August 7, 2023

In 2022, 4.5 million Michigan voters elected state lawmakers who recently authorized spending $80.2 billion for the 2024 state budget. Elections have consequences, and in this case, voters will be bearing the weight of a lot of pork spending. But they will not be enjoying it as bacon at breakfast. The $80.2 billion budget will cost each Michigan voter about $1,800, or about a dollar an hour, over the entire work year. The Democrat party did well in the 2022 election, taking control of both houses of the legislature and the executive office for the first time in 40 years. The previous year's budget was $70 billion with estimates of $146 million in pork, or special grants and other funding for government agencies and private businesses.

This year’s legislators went “hog-wild,” passing special grants that total $900 million. The pork party slop overflowed by 600 percent as the 2024 budget increased by 15 percent.

Rep. Jamie Thompson (R) criticized Democrats for lavish spending “on things like a new state archaeologist office and electric vehicles for state employees” instead of funding a public safety support program that “would go toward protecting our communities and addressing officer shortages.”

She pointed out that Michigan ranks 49th in the nation in population growth with only West Virginia faring worse. Plus, analyses by University of Michigan show the state is on the cusp of a long-term population decline through 2045. All while the state’s “annual adjusted gross appropriations have increased by over $30 billion from where they were a decade prior.” Can Michigan defuse its population time bomb? See how far we fall short

Each Michigan taxpayer will have to pay more taxes to balance the budget, as the increase in the pork-laden budget comes while those who feed the state coffers with their tax dollars are leaving in droves.

Care to see where all the money will go? The new party in charge made changes in budget reporting and called for the government to "address transparency in this budget." If true, then the answer should be forthcoming, right?

Thompson noted that the budget ends requirements for state departments to post the severance payouts online that exceed six weeks of wages for the public. She said the budget plans also “give more power to unelected bureaucrats, eschew whistleblower protections that would have allowed educators at institutions of higher learning to communicate concerns to the Legislature without fear of punishment.”

Michigan’s elected spendthrifts will be revealed in a few months—in January 2024. Only then will these budget-item sponsors and their price tags be revealed. This September, however, the menu of those pork projects will be quietly published on the State Department website. There you can find them, most likely buried deep in the small print. Another party is gearing up for the November 2024 race. Then voters will have a chance to decide whether they prefer to have their pork in the hands of government agencies and private businesses or to have bacon on their own breakfast tables. The old adage, “One can’t have one’s cake and eat it too,” might become, “One can’t have one’s pork and vote it away too.”

Alex Weddon, a former newspaper owner and lifelong resident of Michigan, serves on Michigan Fair Elections Communications Committee.


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