LANSING, Mich. -- Tensions are rising within the governor’s race in Michigan, with attacks being made from both sides.
One of the main attacks Michigan Republicans have been using against Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is her history and similarities to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
The main criticism focused on the passage of the 2007 budget, which included Whitmer’s vote on HB 5198. This budget led to $1.35 billion in tax increases during the Granholm Administration.
Those tax increases are highlighted in an ad released in August by the Republican Governor’s Association.
Sarah Anderson, the Michigan Republican Party’s communications director, said the comparison goes beyond just taxes. It’s about fiscal ideology, Anderson said.
“The idea that you can tax and spend Michigan into prosperity when in fact, increased taxes and spending sent us spiraling into the lost decade," Anderson said. "It’s busted budgets, increased taxes, wasted spending, with no results. The same policies that drove tens of thousands of Michiganders out of our state. It’s borrowing against our future instead of living within our means."
Arnold Weinfeld, the interim director at the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, said Whitmer's vote in favor the 2007 budget should not have come as a surprise.
“She was representing her constituents and voting to support her governor from her party, something anyone in politics should understand,” Weinfeld said.
But Whitmer did vote against bills designed to cut education funding and raise property taxes that ultimately were passed by the legislature and signed by Granholm.
Another criticism: Whitmer’s Rebuild Michigan Infrastructure Bank, which some argue would raise taxes again.
When Whitmer sat down for an interview Aug. 2, she outlined her plan for funding her infrastructure plan.
“We can utilize every opportunity to draw down federal money, to put $3 billion into rebuilding our infrastructure immediately,” she said.
According to her campaign website, the plan calls for creating $2 billion annually in state revenue, which will be matched by $1 billion annually in additional federal dollars.
Nicole Simmons, press secretary for the Whitmere campaign, said these attacks are just attempts to distract voters.
“It’s clear Bill Schuette and the RGA are attacking Gretchen to distract voters from the attorney general’s own failures," Simmons said via a statement. "Schuette signed off on the Flint water plan that let lead in the water, and as governor, he says he will roll back Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, which will take health care away from over 600,000 children, families, and seniors. The truth is, Gretchen took on Gov. Granholm repeatedly in Lansing. She stood up against cuts to schools, retirement and health care, and voted against Granholm’s tax hikes."