Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Harris: Proposed cuts to nonpartisan oversight office would devastate government accountability
RELEASE|March 20, 2024
Contact: Mike Harris

Harris defends auditor general against governor’s $8M budget cut

State Rep. Mike Harris on Wednesday criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to eliminate 28% of funding for the nonpartisan Office of the Auditor General, which has held her administration accountable and uncovered fraud and incompetence at state agencies.

Harris, who serves on the House Ethics and Oversight Committee, said he’d oppose the governor’s proposal to reduce the OAG’s budget by a net $8.3 million, which would interfere with the office’s crucial oversight work. Auditor General Doug Ringler last week wrote a letter to legislative leaders calling attention to the proposed cut. Ringler explained how the drastic funding reduction would hinder the OAG’s ability to complete required financial and performance audits, noting that the cut could even put federal funding at risk.

“The auditor general’s watchful eye on state government has brought fraud and inefficiency to light,” said Harris, R-Waterford. “Now, the governor wants to put blinders on the very office that has provided this indispensable oversight. She’s proposing an enormous budget cut to the nonpartisan auditors that are on the lookout to hold her administration accountable to Michiganders. I will fight to maintain full funding of the auditor general so this investigative office can ensure government agencies follow the law and use taxpayer dollars efficiently.”

Numerous audits by the OAG in recent years have exposed deep-rooted problems and law-breaking in the Whitmer administration. Most notably, a series of five audits, which wrapped up in December of last year, helped expose billions of dollars in fraud and improper payments by Whitmer’s Unemployment Insurance Agency during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The OAG even exposed instances where state departments continued to misuse funds even after problems had been found and subsequently ignored.

In recent years, the OAG also identified unreported deaths in long-term care facilities during Whitmer’s COVID-19 orders, found that the Department of Education did not ensure contracted school staff went through the required fingerprinting and criminal background checks, uncovered a serious backlog in case investigation at the Department of Civil Rights, revealed that the Department of Transportation has been inefficient with both road funding dollars and inspections of critical hospital infrastructure, and more.

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