Whitmer’s Ambitious Budget Prioritizes Education and Fixing Roads - TAI News
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Anzhe Zhang

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is prepared to sign the largest state budget in Michigan history after nearly 19 hours of deliberation from lawmakers last week finalizing the plans. The budget, which comes to $75.7 billion, focuses on education and infrastructure, while also addressing pension systems, community development, and public safety.

Noting that the budget delivers on “kitchen-table issues that matter and lowers costs for families struggling with inflation,” Whitmer called the final budget a boon for Michigan families, stating that it was a “balanced, bipartisan budget […] that does not raise taxes by a dime and is delivered on time.”

​​The surplus of funds for the state budget comes largely from federal aid that Michigan has received over the course of the pandemic.

“I am proud that the budget will grow Michigan’s economy and workforce, make record investments in every student and classroom, protect public health and public safety, expand mental health resources, and empower working families and communities,” Whitmer said.

Notably, the two largest figures in the budget focus on education and infrastructure. Of the total budget, $19.6 billion will be allocated for the School Aid fund.

This raises the per-pupil foundation allowance by $450 to $9,150 per student, marking the largest provided amount per individual student in state history that equates to a $630.5 million increase from last year.

A broad overview into the education budget includes $336 million increased spending for special education, $500 million set for school consolidation projects, $175 million to support school employees earning a teaching certificate, and $52 million in grants to account for learning loss over the past few years. The budget also provides support for teachers as well as support for higher education institutions.

The second largest figure in the budget is $6 billion which will be allocated towards rebuilding and repairing local roads and bridges, a persistent problem in the state, while also improving airport and transit systems.

Within the infrastructure budget, $1.9 billion will be allocated to local road agencies while $385 million will be set aside for road and bridge repair. The budget also features a $333 million increase for trunkline maintenance, $135.9 million for state rail operations, and $27 million for a local bridge program.

Elsewhere, $2.65 billion will be allocated for the public employee pension system, while $300 million will be set aside for economic and community development. Other big figures include $130 million set aside for public safety resources and community policing.

State Budget Director Chris Harkins praised the final product, calling it a “financially sound budget that responsibly invests our one-time funds.”

“In addition to prioritizing funding for our students, schools, public health, natural resources, and communities, we are paying down debt, shoring up pensions and setting money aside for a rainy day,” Harkins said.

Reprinted from the Tri-City Record

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