As we all know by now, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s crusade against marriage equality ran up a multimillion dollar bill for Michigan taxpayers. Schuette’s office was ordered to pay the court costs and attorney fees for the Michigan defendants in the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges marriage equality U.S. Supreme Court case totalling $1.9 million. This is addition to the tax dollars spent hiring what turned out to be a tragically inept lawyer to argue the case before the Supreme Court along with countless hours of staff attorney time in the months leading up to the final SCOTUS decision.
This week the House Appropriations Committee voted on Legislative Transfer Request 2015-8 that will transfer of reimbursement funds to the Attorney General’s office, funds that would have been available for other things like education, public safety, and road repairs. One member of the committee, Democrat Adam Zemke of Ann Arbor, offered a motion that would have blocked the transfer, a move that would have forced Schuette to take the money out of his own budget.
“I’m disappointed members of the Appropriations Committee gave their tacit support today for this waste of taxpayer money,” Zemke said in a statement. “There are dozens of more significant and necessary areas to which this money could be applied. We owe it to our constituents to use a funding allotment of this magnitude appropriately. It is not the responsibility of Michiganders to reimburse the Attorney General for this wasted use of funds. It should not be on the backs of Michigan taxpayers that he chose to be on the wrong side of equality.”
Given that the majority of Michiganders support marriage equality, Zemke is exactly right. According to Zemke’s office, the request was to increase the funding to the Attorney General’s litigation fund by $2 million. The litigation fund supports major legal action involving the governor and attorney general in their official capacity, or for outside legal advice. The money was requested due to the fund having gone over its previous appropriations allotment.
Predictably, the motion failed along party lines. Schuette’s Republican friends on the committee were there to bankroll his one-man ideological war against the LGBT community, despite the fact that it goes against the wishes of over half of our state’s residents. Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie Scott put it succinctly:
Despite calling himself a fiscal conservative, Bill Schuette went to the legislature to ask for a bailout for his own failure before the U.S. Supreme Court. Today’s vote is further proof that Attorney General Bill Schuette expects Michigan taxpayers to foot the bill for his quixotic crusades against the people of Michigan. Rather than stand on the side of equality with Michigan families, Schuette chose the path of discrimination and intolerance and now everyone has to pay for his political gamesmanship.
And don’t forget: Schuette is the presumptive favorite to be the Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2018.