Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Alexander: Proposed Auditor General budget cut is a blow for government transparency
RELEASE|March 15, 2024

State Rep. Greg Alexander today criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to drastically reduce funding for the nonpartisan Office of the Auditor General (OAG), which has identified mismanagement and inefficiencies in its reviews of state agencies and programs.

“This nonpartisan office has provided accountability for taxpayers by making sure programs and departments are working as intended – and what must be fixed if they aren’t,” said Alexander, of Carsonville. “This week is supposed to be a recognition of the importance of transparency and open government through Sunshine Week. This recommendation from the governor goes directly against that.”

Numerous audits by the OAG in recent years have exposed deep-rooted problems within the Whitmer administration. A series of five audits in 2020 and wrapped up in December of last year helped expose billions of dollars of fraud and improper payments by Whitmer’s Unemployment Insurance Agency during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The office also identified unreported deaths in long-term care facilities during COVID-19 orders, found that the Department of Education did not ensure contracted school staff went through required fingerprinting and criminal background checks, uncovered a significant 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.

“Moves like this have a chilling impact on how state government operates,” Alexander said. “It encourages going along to get along. Give the administration a bad performance review or bring missteps to light and you may be risking getting less funding or support. This isn’t about partisan politics. The OAG has existed and served an integral role for decades among many administrations. This is about protecting a crucial resource for taxpayers and residents throughout our state.”

Auditor General Doug Ringler sent a letter to House and Senate leaders this week explaining how a 28% funding reduction as planned by the governor would dramatically impact the OAG’s ability to fulfill audit requirements and could even put federal funding at risk.

Alexander has consistently pushed for measures that promote greater transparency in state government. He has called on the House to move forward with House Bills 5422-27, which strengthen transparency requirements for Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and improve the process for obtaining government records.

The legislative package would expand FOIA to ensure the governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature disclose documents and communications. Michigan is just one of two states where the Legislature and the governor’s office are not subject to FOIA or another similar open records requirement. The requirements would be the same as what other elected officials and employees in other areas of state and local governments are currently expected to follow.

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