LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Rick Outman expressed his disappointment with the one-sided, partisan budget process and the lack of consideration for any amendments introduced by Republicans last week during the Senate’s budget negotiations.
“We introduced over 170 amendments to reel back spending in some areas and maintain funding in other areas that have historically been top concerns like roads, school safety and other items,” said Outman, R-Six Lakes. “This budget is very one-sided and leaves out a number of priorities that are important to a large percentage of Michigan residents.”
Outman said many of the amendments were especially important for his district and other rural communities.
“As the minority vice chair of the Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, I was more directly involved in the formulation of that budget and I really was disappointed to see some of the items that were voted down,” Outman said.
The senator pointed to three amendments that he was especially disappointed did not receive support:
- An amendment to fully fund Families Against Narcotics for the upcoming fiscal year, as opposed to the Democratic proposal, which cut funding for the program in half from last year’s budget. FAN is a community-based organization for individuals seeking recovery, those in recovery or for family members affected by addiction.
- An amendment to restore funding for the McLaren Central Michigan Hospital’s Sexual
Assault Nurse Examiner program. Funding for the program was originally included in the governor’s budget recommendations earlier this year but was removed by the Democrat-controlled Senate. Dollars for this program go toward training nurses who assist sexual assault victims. This includes conducting private exams to document, collect and process any forensic evidence after an assault as well as follow-up medical care.
- An amendment to increase funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers throughout the state. Children’s Advocacy Centers provide care to children immediately following abuse and serve as a safe haven while children work with specialists to help get past trauma.
“These programs have made a big difference to many Michigan families,” Outman said. “Addiction is something that has grabbed ahold of every part of this state — no community is immune from it. These funds have helped a lot of people turn things around and helped a lot of people who were in serious trouble and had nowhere else to turn.
“I’m particularly bothered by the lack of dedication to people who have been affected by crime and the lack of funding for programs that have proven their importance. The sexual assault examiner program at McLaren is one of the only programs of this kind in the area and the hospital serves a number of surrounding counties with these services and Children’s Advocacy Centers offer a safe place to go after being abused. These are places where law enforcement officials, child protection workers, medical professionals and victim advocates work together to help childhood abuse victims heal and hold offenders accountable.”
The senator said these are agreeable issues and he hopes to see the funding shortfalls addressed as work on the fiscal year 2024 budget continues.
“Supporting these programs sends a message that we’re standing behind people who are in need and giving them a place to turn to for help,” Outman said.