Whitmer’s 140 fee hikes totaling $27.6M removed from Michigan budget

Whitmer’s 140 fee hikes totaling $27.6M removed from Michigan budget

The governor’s proposed budged included $27.6 million in new revenue from 140 fee hikes on Michiganders. But Michigan residents fought back.

In February 2021, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revealed monumental fee hikes for Michiganders as part of her state budget recommendation. But Michiganders fought back. And won.

The proposed 140 fee hikes, totaling $27.6 million, would have taken effect in a difficult economic environment for Michiganders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fees ranged from a 20% increase in mammogram fees to increasing the cost to look up a driving record from $11 to $15, which would have taken an additional $19 million from business owners.

Nearly 14,000 Michiganders signed a petition to stop these fee hikes. And Michigan representatives got the message. All of Whitmer’s fees were removed from the budget prior to its passage.

The House and Senate did not include Whitmer’s recommended increase in land and water resources fees of $5.3 million to support permitting and compliance activities. Nor did they include a recommended $309,400 increase in Drinking Water and Industrial Stormwater Operator Certification fees or a $100,000 fee increase for Hazardous Waste Site Identification licenses.

For these items, The Conference included the funding as general funding, including $2.1 million to support four related existing programs, but no fees.

The Senate, House, and Conference all rejected the governor’s recommendation to increase record look-up fees.

Although the fee removals are to be celebrated, the new budget still increases Michigan’s spending by 11.5% from last year, and the governor expressed her excitement in doing so.

The budget includes $146.9 million for Michigan Enhancement Grants, mostly one-time appropriations that cannot be sustained in the future without federal COVID-19 funding, tax hikes on Michiganders or new debt. Some of these grants are frivolous, including $375,00 for the Flint Social Club, $5 million to the Midland Center for the Arts, $1.5 million to Van Dyke apartments and $100,000 for a Poet Laureate.

Michiganders should celebrate their defeat of the governor’s fee hikes. But financing new spending with a federal windfall will force difficult decisions in the future.

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