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A new proposal for increased police funding in Michigan, with more misleading rhetoric from the GOP

November 15, 2021

Earlier this month, there was proposed legislation that would provide an additional $250 million for policing in Michigan.

According to a November 12th MLive article:

The $250 million supplemental budget proposal, House Bill 5522, is focused on recruitment and retention, community outreach and equipment upgrades building on an earlier $80 million plan approved by the House in May.

Michigan’s House Speaker, Jason Wentworth was quoted in the MLive article as saying:

“Michigan’s men and women in uniform deserve to know that they are a priority and that their work is important to us. In an era when far too many people are attacking law enforcement and looking for ways to defund the police, we chose to stand with them and find solutions together.”

This statement from from Rep. Wentworth is misleading, in at least two ways. First, the fact is that police budgets at the state level and the local level have not been reduced at all over the past 18 months, despite the push in numerous cities to defund the police. In fact, in some cities, like Grand Rapids, the funding for police has actually increased. 

The second way that Rep. Wentworth provides a misleading comment is when he says that the GOP plans to “stand with them a find solutions together.” Besides the fact that Wentworth provides no concrete solutions, he doesn’t even clarify what the problem(s) are. If the problem is crime, as is usually the case coming from politicians, then they need to demonstrate that police funding actually prevents crime. According to a report by Interrupting Criminalization, police overwhelmingly do not prevent crime.

The MLive reporter also does not verify this claim from Wentworth, although they do point out that not only are Michigan Democrats not pushing to Defund the Police, this Republican proposal is similar to what Gov. Whitmer proposed her Michigan Safe Communities Plan back in July. This point underscores the bi-partisan nature of support for the police, which has been the case for decades, as we noted in a post from last year.

The bipartisan support for police departments is also true based on the amount of money that police unions contribute to both the Republicans and the Democrats. In fact, at the federal level, the Fraternal Order of Police has contributed more to Democrats than Republicans over the past 20 years. The bi-partisan funding is also the case at the state and local level, based on the data provided by the group No More Cop Money.

In Michigan, No More Cop Money has been documenting police union contributions to politicians since 2015, which you can find at this link. Based on this data, Michigan House speaker Jason Wentworth has received $1,250 from police unions, as have the two Republicans who co-sponsored House Bill 5522, Republicans Mike Mueller ($800) and Thomas Albert ($500). 

It is worth noting that House Bill 5522 is now headed to the Appropriations Committee, which has rough one third of the members of the Appropriations Committee have received funding from police unions in recent years.

Appropriations Committee members that have received police union contributions:  

  • R Mary Whiteford $200
  • D Joe Tate $1,500
  • R Sue Allor $1,000
  • R Tommy Brann $2,500
  • R Jeffrey Yaroch $150
  • R Sara Lightner $250
  • D Abdullah Hammoud $250
  • D Ronnie Peterson $1,000
  • R Greg VanWoerkom $2,000
  • D Terry Sabo $3,000

The newly proposed bill to provide additional funding to police departments in Michigan to recruit and retain officers is likely to pass, especially since both political parties are not only supported by police unions, they both have consistently supported police funding. The only major difference is the overtly pro-cop rhetoric that the GOP uses, but make no mistake, support for police departments is a bi-partisan affair. 

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