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Highlights of Gov. Whitmer’s $67.1 billion budget proposal for Michigan in 2022

Moves to ban weapons at the statehouse have been pushed since April, when protesters opposed to...
Moves to ban weapons at the statehouse have been pushed since April, when protesters opposed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions, some armed with long rifles and other weapons, entered the Michigan State Capitol.(Source: CNN)
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 1:44 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer presented her third budget proposal to the Michigan Legislature on Thursday, calling for investments in schools, child care and public health.

The proposed $67.1 billion budget would cover Michigan’s 2022 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1. The Legislature has to approve all spending, so Thursday’s budget recommendation kicks off a months-long process of negotiation between the executive and legislative branches.

Whitmer’s 2022 budget recommendation would be an 8% increase over the $62 billion state budget for the current fiscal year.

Here are some highlights of Whitmer’s budget priorities:

SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION

Whitmer is calling for significant increases in education funding with permanent hikes in per-pupil funding for public schools and several one-time spending programs related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitmer wants to narrow the gap in public school funding with a proposal to increase the per-pupil foundation allowance by $164 for districts at the minimum funding level of $8,275 and by $82 for districts at the maximum funding level of $8,611.

In addition, Whitmer is calling for spending $14.1 million to add a 2% increase to the per-pupil funding allowance for students who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners, special education or attend isolated rural districts.

To recover from the coronavirus pandemic, Whitmer is proposing a one-time $250 million allocation for schools to support academic recovery after students spent months outside the classroom and an additional $200 million to help schools offset revenue losses projected in the 2022 fiscal year.

Whitmer is calling for $120 million to fund summer school and other programs designed to help students catch up from learning loss during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other schools and education spending proposals:

  • $55 million for the Filters First program to replace drinking fountains and water fixtures.
  • $32 million to raise Great Start Readiness Program preschoolers to the minimum per-pupil allowance of $8,275.
  • $2.9 million for addressing Michigan’s teacher shortage and provide more support for current teachers.

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Whitmer wants to spend $370 million on expanding child care options in Michigan by temporarily raising the income threshold from 150% of the poverty line to $200. She also wants to waive copays through the 2022 fiscal year and provide a 10% pay increase for child care providers.

Whitmer is calling for $180 million on two programs announced last year to encourage more Michiganders to obtain a college education -- $120 million for the Michigan Reconnect program offering an associate’s degree or career skills training tuition free and $60 million for the Futures for Frontliners program offering tuition free college education for frontline workers.

An additional $15 million would be spent on Whitmer’s Going Pro program, which helps offset training costs for Michigan employers.

Other economic opportunity spending proposals from Whitmer:

  • $25 million for the Mobility Futures Initiative, which is a collaboration to support autonomous vehicle development and economic or workforce development.
  • $3 million to support pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to encourage more graduates to enter building and construction trades.
  • $1 million for Focus: HOPE to support workforce, youth and community development programs.

PUBLIC HEALTH

With the coronavirus pandemic still in ravaging Michigan, Whitmer is calling for spending hundreds of millions more dollars to respond effectively and eradicate COVID-19.

Her biggest proposal is $360 million to permanently raise pay for direct care workers by $2 an hour. Whitmer announced the pay raise last spring as a temporary measure when the coronavirus pandemic reached Michigan, but she now wants to extend it permanently.

Whitmer wants to spend $38 million to support nursing homes that lost revenue while they dealt with lower bed capacity during the pandemic.

Her second largest public health spending priority is $91 million to improve behavioral health services available to Medicare and Medicaid patients, along with children in the welfare system. Another $26.5 million would go toward a pilot program for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics to serve adults statewide.

Whitmer’s other public health spending priorities include:

  • $19 million to open 1,000 more slots for the MiChoice program, which offers alternatives to nursing home care.
  • $15 million for capital improvements and maintenance at Michigan’s five psychiatric hospitals.
  • $10 million to support lead remediation efforts statewide.
  • $8.4 million to reduce health disparities by expanding access to community-based navigators through the Michigan Health Information Network.
  • $6.7 million to support the Sickle Cell Disease Initiative and provide treatment to 400 people.

INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENVIRONMENT

Whitmer wants to focus infrastructure spending on bridges and water the most. She is calling for $300 million to replace 120 bridges around the state that are classified as serious or critical condition.

Whitmer wants to continue her MI Clean Water program with $290 million to eliminate sewage overflows, sewage discharged into waterways and failing septic systems. She also is calling for $40 million to help prepare for persistently high water levels affecting local government programs.

After the Edenville and Sanford dams on the Tittabawassee River failed last May, Whitmer wants to allocate $15 million into a fund that would pay for repairs or maintenance to mitigate hazards when dam owners are unwilling or unable.

She also called for spending $20 million to beef the state government’s security against cyber attacks.

More of Whitmer’s environmental spending proposals include:

  • $20 million to clean up contaminated sites around Michigan.
  • $5 million for a revolving fund to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in state facilities.
  • $5 million to support the purchase of propane tanks to help meet the state’s energy needs.
  • $5 million for the Michigan Saves Green Bank to encourage private investment in renewable energy development.

STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Governmental entities across Michigan suffered revenue losses from the coronavirus pandemic and Whitmer is proposing to help offset those with some one-time spending initiatives.

Michigan cities that charge an income tax, including Flint, would be eligible for a $70 million fund to make up for lost revenue from employees working at home. No city could receive more than $25 million from the fund.

All cities, townships and villages would receive a 1.8% increase in constitutional revenue sharing and a 2% increase in statutory revenue sharing under Whitmer’s budget proposal. They also would be eligible for $5 million to support hiring police officers, firefighters and emergency medical responders.

Whitmer is proposing a $175 million into Michigan’s Budget Stabilization Fund, which is the state’s savings account. The deposit would cover about half of what the state withdrew in 2020 to pay for COVID-19 response programs.

Whitmer’s other governmental spending priorities include:

  • $20 million to enact the clean slate law, which allows certain offenders to get felony and misdemeanor convictions expunged from their records.
  • $12 million to continue implementing new standards for indigent criminal defense.
  • $10 million for affordable housing and economic revitalization in downtown areas.
  • $7.7 million to hold another Michigan State Police trooper recruit training academy.
  • $5 million for security upgrades at the Michigan Capitol, including a new weapons ban.

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