(The Center Square) – Michigan’s Growing Together Council was funded partly by private groups – a detail omitted in the final report which one lawmaker called an “abuse of the pubic trust.”
State Rep. John Roth, R-Interlochen, told The Center Square in an email Republican concerns continue to grow.
“The governor chose to keep over $900,000 in non-profit payments hidden even after strong-arming $2 million in taxpayer funding through the Legislature,” Roth said. “This abuse of the public trust is yet another example of negligence from a governor that has shown no willingness to operate out in the open. Republicans had concerns about the council’s report before, and this lack of transparency is the final nail in the coffin.”
The 86-page report, developed over five months that showed strategies to boost Michigan’s waning population, mentioned “funding” 54 times but no actual long-term funding mechanisms to fix the roads.
The Detroit News reported the growing council spent five months developing the report to grow Michigan’s population but failed to mention its funding.
“While Whitmer, a second-term Democrat, announced the council at a June 1 press conference and formed it within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, her administration arranged for nearly $1 million in funding to flow through a private foundation that faced fewer disclosure requirements than state government does,” the News reported.
The Growing Council’s’s final report didn’t mention the private funding from the Michigan Municipal League Foundation or the other foundations.
The council also received $2 million in the 2024 budget and five full-time positions to increase the state’s resident population.
Whitmer’s office hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.
The growing commission’s report follows Michigan’s falling economic status over 20 years. The Wolverine State now ranks 39th in personal income per capita among the 50 states.
Michigan’s per capita income in 2022 was 13% below the national average – the lowest Michigan has been compared to the nation since first data compilation in 1929. This is the opposite of where Michigan was in the 20th Century when the state was structurally a relatively high-prosperity state. In 1999, Michigan ranked 16th in per capita income, slightly below the national average.
On Wednesday, Whitmer will give her State of the State address to announce her priorities for later this year.