Fact Squad | No, Michigan Gov. Whitmer did not ‘defund the police’

A conservative PAC is falsely accusing Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of defunding the police and U.S. Reps. Haley Stevens and Elissa Slotkin, both Michigan Democrats, of doing nothing. (Courtesy photo)

LANSING — Conservative “news” outlets, Republican activists and a GOP super PAC this week falsely accused Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of  attempting to “defund the police” by executive order. 

The misinformation began spreading Wednesday as Whitmer and GOP legislative leaders rolled out details of a deal to close a $2.2 billion hole in the current-year state budget caused by COVID-19, forced business closures and the economic lockdown. 

That deal included several spending cuts, but it did not slash funding for state police and prisons in dramatic fashion, as critics claimed.  Even Republican lawmakers, who have feuded with Whitmer over her response to the coronavirus pandemic, rose to her defense.

The claims

“BREAKING NEWS: .@GovWhitmer has defunded the Michigan State Police and the prisons,” Great Lakes News wrote Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. “Executive order 2020-155 slashes tens of millions from the Michigan State Police and Department of Corrections.”

Conservative radio show host Steve Gruber, impeachment activist Brandon Hall, Brietbart and the Congressional Leadership Fund quickly picked up on the “news,” with the latter attempting to draw incumbent Democratic U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens into the election-year non-controversy. 

“WHITMER SAYS DEFUND THE POLICE. SLOTKIN AND STEVENS SAY NOTHING,” the GOP super PAC claimed in an online post

The facts 

As part of the budget deal negotiated with GOP legislative leaders, Whitmer did sign an executive order to cut current-year spending across state government, including a $499.2 million combined reduction for the Michigan State Police and Department of Corrections.

However, Michigan will replace most of those state dollars for police and prisons  — $475 million — with funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Officials expect additional savings from hiring freezes, rotating furloughs that began months ago and some relatively small program cuts. Michigan will still spend more than $450 million on its state police force this year and nearly $2 billion on prisons.

Republican state lawmakers including Sen. Ken Horn of Frankenmuth and Rep. Ben Frederick of Owosso took to social media to try and correct the record, defending a governor with whom they rarely agree. And the Senate GOP put out a clarification on an official Twitter account: 

“Senate Republicans would never agree to a budget that defunds the police,” said the tweet. “By using federal relief funds and cutting other state spending - including our own budget – we balanced a $2.2 billion deficit without significant reductions to public safety (or raising taxes).”

The conclusion

This is as easy as it gets. Whitmer didn’t defund the police and claims to the contrary are wholly false.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Comments

GOP Motto
Thu, 07/23/2020 - 2:46pm

"Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story, unless you can't think of anything better" Mark Twain

middle of the mit
Thu, 07/23/2020 - 5:34pm

Whaaat are you saying? Are you saying that Republicans just started a rumor and then one of the outlets walked it back AFTER it has already made the rounds and talking points?

Say it isn't so!!!!

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/conway-scolded-states-reopening-too-q...

https://twitter.com/Varneyco/status/1285600522171568128
[[[Said Scott: “My daughters are going to be more focused on distance learning right now to make sure their children are safe. Other parents are going to want to make sure their kids are in the classroom.”]]]

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/florida-children-test-positive-coronaviru...

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/07/stephen-millers-grandmother...

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/23/michael-cohen-judge-orders-former-trump-...

https://www.wrcbtv.com/story/42400607/tennessee-secretary-of-state-oppos...

If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance- baffle 'em with bee $ I guess!

Kevin Grand
Thu, 07/23/2020 - 7:21pm

"As part of the budget deal negotiated with GOP legislative leaders, Whitmer did sign an executive order to cut current-year spending across state government, including a $499.2 million combined reduction for the Michigan State Police and Department of Corrections.

However, Michigan will replace most of those state dollars for police and prisons — $475 million — with funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act."

Let me whip out my calculator here...

$499.2 million - $475 million = $24.2 million (LESS)

So, Mr. Oosting, how would YOU define the above cut?

C'mon, don't be shy!

And wasn't the CARES money a one-off?

What will be used in the future to pay for MSP & DOC?

Wow
Fri, 07/24/2020 - 9:55am

This is extremely misleading reporting. Bridge ITSELF reported that the police are still losing $145 million dollars in funding, which is SIGNIFICANT.

Verification Re...
Fri, 07/24/2020 - 1:26pm

Would be nice if you would link to the budget which shows the infusion of cash back in. Just because it is "tweeted" doesn't make it true.

Jake K
Fri, 07/24/2020 - 2:00pm

OMG...everyone looking for a scab to pick. If you’all spent as much time and effort actually WORKING on change rather than than simply repeating your incessant harangue over, and over, and over. Prior to your next diatribe, how about you lead off with an explanation of something YOU did to make things better? Listen...crickets.

Chief54
Sun, 07/26/2020 - 6:34am

Thanks for the great comment, badly needed, This site appears to attract the anti everything crowd who are experts on everything negative.

middle of the mit
Mon, 07/27/2020 - 12:42pm

And where is your solution?

Conservatives are up in arms about budget cuts during a pandemic, something they would normally jump all over in any other instance, except when it comes to budgets that they like.

Why is it so bad to point out that they are full of it and have nothing to offer except "You Are Defunding the Police!" when in reality most departments are being "defunded" because of a pandemic and economic contraction?

And it isn't like they don't like the idea of defunding again. They invented it.

william prucknic
Fri, 07/24/2020 - 2:13pm

The article said she cut 110 million dollars from the state police. When she redirected the money did she put back exactly what she took out.I would like to know that.

Can you read?
Fri, 07/24/2020 - 2:40pm

Yes, Governor Whitmer did defund the state police and the state Department of corrections. She put it in black and white for anyone to read. A simple internet search will show precisely what and how much she defunded. It is true that the federal government gave the state OUR tax dollars to help cover the cost but that is not some magical fund, it is our tax dollars. Governor Whitmer made a political decision to cut public safety. In this era of public rioting and looting, the federal money could have been ADDED to to budget to give our public safety officers even more resources to fight against the violent extremists that are threatening our democracy.

Socha Justice
Sat, 07/25/2020 - 12:22pm

Perhaps, not as easy as it gets. This budget depends on the federal coronavirus stimulus bill. What happens in 2021 when the MSP cuts remain and the additional federal funds are not available to fill the gap?

The Mitch
Sun, 07/26/2020 - 8:31am

It would appear that the Fact Squad needs to be fact-checked. In your article: Michigan closing budget gap with..., it is stated:" Among the Highlights - An executive order from Whitmer cuts approximately $620 million in state spending but utilizies $475 million in federal funding for state police and the department of corrections resulting in a cut of about $145 million"
This was preceeded with your article "Fact squad: No, Michigan Governor Whitmer did not 'defund the police'", which states "As part of the budget deal...including a $499.2 million combined reduction for the MSP and DOC. However, Michigan will replace most of those state dollars - $475 million - with funding from the federal CARES Act.
If you reporting is accurate, either approximately $25 million or $145 million is being cut from the respective budgets of those departments. Governor Whitmer may not be "defunding the police", but I'll leave it to others to define what a multi-million dollar budget cut should be labelled. I would suggest that your own "fact-check" squad read your own articles before they profess "victory". The fact squad must think that we read just the headlines.

CharlieD
Mon, 07/27/2020 - 8:17am

This is hilarous, Jonathan.
Your "Fact Checking" abilities are so fundamentally broken that you can't even get this basic fact right.
Maybe you should try a different career. I'm thinking... Tabloids? FACT CHECK: ELVIS IS STILL ALIVE: TRUE!

A. Bellows
Mon, 07/27/2020 - 8:22am

Never trust anyone who is a self-described "Fact Squad".