Last week, State Budget Director Chris Kolb presented Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal for the state budget for the next fiscal year. In addition to her priority of fixing Michigan roads, Whitmer’s second budget proposal reflects her dedication to investing in public education at all levels.
Her proposal includes a per-pupil increase of $150-$225, with districts currently receiving the lowest per-pupil amount receiving the highest increase. In addition, she uses a weighted formula to direct increased funding to students with special needs, economically disadvantaged students and English language learners. The Governor’s proposal also increases funding for students in the Great Start Readiness program by $1,086 and expands the number of families eligible for the GSRP program. The Governor also created a separate $25 million dollar fund to reimburse teachers directly for out-of-pocket costs they incur for classroom supplies, with a maximum allotment of $250 per teacher. Her proposed budget also includes a $40 million fund for competitive grants for school infrastructure needs. Governor Whitmer’s budget also increases community college and higher education funding by 2.5 percent, providing the same percentage increase to each institution. The budget presentation also emphasized the Governor’s request that the Legislature pass the funding bill to create the Michigan Reconnect Program, which would provide free tuition for non-traditional students at Michigan community colleges.
AFT Michigan President David Hecker released the following statement about the budget proposal:
“In her second budget, Gov. Whitmer has once again demonstrated that she believes in our public schools. The Governor’s proposed budget shows she shares the same values as the people of Michigan by investing in strong public education from pre-school to college and respecting the education professionals who dedicate their lives to Michigan’s students. We thank the Governor for ensuring investment in early childhood education, using a weighted formula to better fund at-risk and special needs students, and boosting funding to aid students in pursuing higher education degrees and credentials.
“Too often, elected officials pay lip service to our educators for the work and sacrifice they make to provide our students with nurturing learning environments, but Gov. Whitmer is the first to put those words into action in Michigan in quite some time. Creating a fund to reimburse teachers directly for the supplies they buy for their classrooms out of their own pockets is exactly the type of support educators across Michigan deserve because they do so much for our students and communities.
“We hope the Michigan Legislature moves swiftly to adopt the Governor’s 2021 budget and the supplemental funding for the MI Reconnect program, which will provide every non-traditional student in Michigan the ability to pursue a community college degree or credential.”