Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer slashed more than $100 million from the Michigan State Police budget just a few weeks after admitting she supports the “spirit” of the ‘Defund the Police’ movement.
In an executive order unveiled this week, Whitmer cut nearly one-quarter of state law enforcement’s budget, along with $392 million from the Department of Corrections.
The cuts were made as part of an ongoing effort by state legislators to close a $2.2 billion budget deficit, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Whitmer plans to replace the funds she’s cutting from MSP with federal coronavirus relief funds. But it’s not clear whether federal funds will be able to fill the entire gap—or whether she’ll follow through on following the gap at all.
She’s already made it clear that she does not oppose cutting back on the policing budget.
“You look at budgets, and they’re focused on policing—they should be focused on education, transportation, access to healthcare, access to skills and leveling the playing field,” Whitmer told The Root last month.
“If you do all those other things, you don’t need all the money that’s going to the police departments,” she continued. “So, yeah, I mean, the spirit of [Defund the Police], I do support that spirit of it.”
After facing criticism, Whitmer backtracked and ‘clarified” her statement with what appeared to be a full reversal: “I don’t believe the police should be defunded,” she said.
Whitmer and other Michigan Democrats are already arguing that the budget cuts are not an attempt to defund the police, since federal funding will make up the difference.
They’ve also argued that ‘Defund the Police’ means reallocating funding from police departments to other public sectors, such as healthcare and education. But the underlying goal of the movement, according to several of its prominent activists, is to rid communities of police entirely.
How that would work in Michigan, which has some of the strictest coronavirus regulations in the country, is unclear.
Whitmer certainly relies on law enforcement to make sure citizens are following her executive orders, which might be why she reconsidered her initial support for the movement.