Gov. Whitmer’s proposed budget includes funding for key education priorities

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the crowd during inauguration ceremonies, Jan. 1, 2023, outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week unveiled her budget for fiscal year 2025. It includes funding for the universal prekindergarten and free community college initiatives she announced during her State of the State address in January.

Whitmer and Budget Director Jen Flood presented the proposal for the upcoming fiscal year to a joint session of the state House and Senate appropriations committees on Wednesday.

Whitmer’s total proposed budget comes out to $80.7 billion, just a bit lower than last year’s budget. It includes a general fund of $14.3 billion and a school aid budget of $19 billion.

“My balanced, fiscally responsible budget recommendation for fiscal year 2025 builds on the historic investments we’ve made since I took office and delivers on the issues that make a real difference in people’s lives,” Whitmer said, according to an announcement released by her office. 

The governor is asking for $159 million to expand free pre-K to every 4-year-old across Michigan, along with $30 million to expand the Michigan Achievement Scholarship to pay for Michigan high school graduates to attend community college for two years tuition-free.

The free pre-K initiative could save families $10,000 per year, and the free community college initiative could save $4,820 each in tuition for 18,000 students annually, Whitmer’s office said.

The budget also includes another $62 million to continue the Michigan Reconnect program, which gives adults over the age of 25 the opportunity to attend community college tuition-free as well.

The budget contains spending increases in other areas of education as well: It calls for a 2.5% boost in base per-pupil K-12 funding, or an additional $241 per student. That means the state would allocate $9,849 per student in the upcoming fiscal year if Whitmer’s budget were passed.

Other items in the budget are $300 million for student mental health and school safety; $251 million for student assistance, including literacy grants and literacy coaches; and $200 million to continue to provide free breakfast and lunch for all K-12 students.

Outside education, the budget would also add $100 million to the state’s budget reserve funds, bringing its balance to more than $2.2 billion; pay off $670 million in state retirement system debt early; put $10 million in the state’s Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund; and allocate $4.8 million to increase child care facility inspections.

“Governor Whitmer understands that families across Michigan are feeling the pinch of rising costs, and her budget recommendation includes investments that will make a real difference for Michiganders across the state,” said Flood. “The Governor’s budget will help kids learn, lower costs, and spark investment and create new jobs in our state. I look forward to working with our legislative partners to make Michigan the best state to live, work, raise a family, and care for those we love.”