See who sponsored $1B in Michigan earmarks: Did your rep bring home pork?
- For the first time, see which Michigan lawmakers sponsored budget earmarks worth more than $1 billion combined
- No-bid grants were awarded for a cricket field, disc golf course, housing developments, community pools, private college and more
- The State Budget Office and Democratic-led Legislature agreed to release the records months ahead of schedule
LANSING — Michigan lawmakers added more than $1 billion in special projects to the annual state budget last summer – in many cases at the last moment, but Democratic leaders promised to eventually provide additional transparency.
Under the $82 billion spending bill signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the state will be required to publish a list of which lawmakers sponsored which no-bid grants – but not until the end of September.
However, Bridge Michigan is making that information public for the first time today, months ahead of schedule. Below, you’ll find sponsorship information for more than 320 earmarks totalling a combined $1.4 billion.
Use the searchable database to find out which lawmakers sponsored a local cricket field, road project, disc golf course, boxing gym, housing development, community pool, private college and more.
Lawmakers were required to raise their hand for each grant they sponsored by Jan. 15. The State Budget Office, which is tasked with compiling that list, voluntarily provided the information to Bridge. Additional information, including the lawmaker’s rationale for each earmark, is expected in coming days.
In a joint statement, Senate Appropriations Chair Sarah Anthony and House Appropriations Chair Angela Witwer said they worked with the budget office to release the sponsorship information early because “we also value transparency and agree that taxpayers deserve to know how tax dollars are spent.”
- Political funds flow to Michigan lawmaker who secured $18M earmark
- How Michigan pork spending rose tenfold to $1B under Whitmer (with GOP help)
- Michigan budget has $950M in no-bid pork projects, some transparency reforms
The process isn’t new – a Republican-led Legislature also added more than $1 billion in earmarks to last year’s budget – but what is new is “the openness and ownership of this funding,” Anthony and Witwer said.
“Every single legislator, in part, is charged with fighting for their district and their constituents, including bringing state dollars back home to support beneficial local projects. Our colleagues in the House and Senate were strong advocates for their districts, and as a result, their constituents will see an influx of resources to help strengthen local communities through a legislative grant process.”
Critics have questioned the process, however, arguing that competitive bidding — not lawmaker preference – should be a primary factor in state spending.
Roughly 65% of the sponsored earmarks in this year’s state budget were added at the "eleventh hour," shortly before floor votes, according to a recent analysis by the non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan.
"These earmarks receive virtually no real vetting, meaning there’s no 'good budgeting' evaluation of how the public need being addressed in these proposals stacks up against other public needs," Bob Schneider, a senior research associate for CRC, wrote in a recent report.
“An eleventh-hour earmark that funds a public infrastructure improvement in City A, for instance, may bring very real public benefits, but why are those a higher priority than similar projects in City B or Township C or County D?”
See what new members are saying about why they donated to Bridge Michigan:
- “In order for this information to be accurate and unbiased it must be underwritten by its readers, not by special interests.” - Larry S.
- “Not many other media sources report on the topics Bridge does.” - Susan B.
- “Your journalism is outstanding and rare these days.” - Mark S.
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