GOP Shouldn’t Hold Breath That Whitmer Will Limit Her Own Powers

The governor has been flexing her constitutional muscles lately — and Republicans aren’t happy about it.


Some state lawmakers want to limit the powers of the governor’s office.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been flexing her constitutional muscles lately — using her executive powers in ways that Michigan hasn’t seen in recent memory.

Last month, the governor and her health department declared a public health emergency in order to ban flavored vaping products in Michigan. That ban is now on hold and moving through the court system.

And more recently, Whitmer used her line-item veto powers to the tune of nearly $1 billion in the new state budget. And she used the state’s Administrative Board to move money around in the budget without needing approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The GOP, as you might imagine, isn’t thrilled with those moves.

Click on the player above to hear MichMash hosts Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk about Republican efforts to curb the governor’s authority.

From the Michigan Public Radio Network:

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she won’t trade away any of her budget authority to get a new spending deal with the Legislature.

The governor used her line-item veto power to strike many millions of dollars in spending. She then turned to a unique and rarely used power to move much of that money around. The vetoes are widely unpopular. Even Governor Whitmer says she’d like to find a way to restore some of them. But she says she won’t agree to give up any powers of her office.

“You know, I’ve been pretty clear I think that I’m not going to abrogate my executive authority. Not for my administration or any future administration,” said Whitmer.

But Republican leaders say they need ironclad guarantees from Whitmer that she won’t make those types of big budget decisions without the Legislature’s OK. And they say the best way to do that may be a law that says she can’t. 

“That we preserve what the constitution clearly intends – that the Legislature have a serious position on spending,” says state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake). “And, right now, the way that statute is written, there is no balance of power in it.” 

Whitmer has said she’s open to negotiations, but she doesn’t want to reduce the power of the office for herself or future administrations. 


  • Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.

  • Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.