Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome back to my e-newsletter!
Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Budget Recommendations
Earlier this month, the governor unveiled her executive budget recommendations to the Legislature for the FY 2021 budget. She also included some additional recommendations for supplemental budget requests for FY 2020. I wanted to reach out today to share some of the highlights of her budget that include education and job training, climate action and water, and health and family services.
Education and job training
On the education front, I was excited to see her budget include a proposal for $25 million in additional funding to reimburse teachers for out-of-pocket expenses when purchasing necessary classroom supplies. Michigan’s educators are committed to making sure our kids have what they need to succeed and often that means spending their own money to make that happen. A 2017 survey found 96 percent of Michigan teachers spend their own money to furnish their classrooms. The survey showed 73 percent of educators spent more than $300 on their students, and 41 percent spent more than $500.
I plan to continue working on my bill – HB 4582 – to provide a much-needed tax credit for these teachers paying out of pocket for classroom supplies. Under my legislation, items eligible for deduction include books, computer programs, art supplies, classroom learning materials, food and equipment. Advancing this bill is one small step we can take towards recognizing how valuable our teachers are to our economic future.
The governor proposed a significant increase in funding of $35.5M – or $1,086 per pupil for full-time preschoolers – to the Great Start Readiness Program that helps four-year-old children with factors that place them at risk of educational failure. Those students with high-quality preschool experience show significant positive developmental differences over children who did not attend a high-quality preschool program.
Her education budget also prioritizes K-12 education by providing significant pupil foundation increases. The state minimum foundation would be increased by $225 per pupil, while the maximum foundation would be raised by $150 per pupil under her proposal. It includes categorical increases to school districts of $125M, $60M of which would be designated for school districts with at-risk economically disadvantaged pupils, and another $60M for special education reimbursement payments to schools.
To help reach her goal of having 60 percent of Michigan adults attain post-secondary credentials by 2030, the governor also included a handful of priorities to support our state’s public universities, community colleges and jobs training programs. State universities would see an across the board increase of 2.5 percent in operating funds, while community colleges would see an average increase of 2.5 percent. To help combat the ever-growing student loan crisis, she added $10M for a new revolving loan student loan fund that allows qualified graduates to refinance higher education loans of up to $50,000.
On the job training and workforce development side, the executive recommendation restores the “Going Pro” program operated through the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity that gives jobs training grants to eligible businesses for some of the most in-demand professional trade careers.
Climate and water
To make Michigan more resistant to the effects of climate change, the governor’s budget allocates $40M for ‘climate resilience grants’ that competitively offer municipal planning and infrastructure grants to address the negative effects of changing climate conditions.
Other major environmental priorities in this budget are emergency contamination grants for rapid response environmental cleanup, an Asian Carp barrier in Illinois to help prevent these destructive invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes, and money to reimburse farmers for implementation of conservation practices that reduce nutrient runoff into nearby watersheds.
Health and family services
The biggest splash the governor made with this budget in terms of support for working families was the $37.5M for one of her new health care initiatives, “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies.” This necessary program would extend Medicaid eligibility for new mothers from the current 60 days to one full year. It would also expand Medicaid family planning services for qualifying families with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Another addition I was glad to see was the proposed spending to double the number of physicians in the MIDOCS program that incentivizes physicians to serve in certain rural communities in Michigan that have a shortage. This funding would significantly help expand affordable health care options and increase health care access for senior citizens in rural Eaton County and other underserved parts of the state.
Continuing on the health care side, the governor wants to provide more support to first responders and corrections officers with PTSD and suicide ideation needs, provide dental screenings for kindergarteners without dental coverage, and increase statewide Medicaid reimbursements for hospital outpatient services. State psych facilities across Michigan would get a boost in their revenue equivalent to about 63 new staff members, in addition to money for much needed facility upgrades. A new Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund would be established as a loan loss reserve program to help remediate lead in homes. Finally, the administration wants to do its part to help prevent campus sexual assault by continuing to support prevention and education awareness programs on high school and college campuses.
Upcoming Coffee & Happy Hours
- Friday, Feb. 21, from 8-9 a.m. at MorningLory Café & Bakery in Dimondale
- Thursday, Feb. 27, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at BrickHaven Brewing Company in Grand Ledge
- Monday, March 2, from 8-9 a.m. at The Brew Café in Delta Twp.
- Wednesday, March 11, from 8-9 a.m. at Flour Child Bakery in Grand Ledge
- Monday, March 23, from 8-9 a.m. at Willow Tree Coffee & Bakery in Olivet
State Representative Angela Witwer
71st House District