House Democrats Celebrate Supplemental Budget Bills Signed into Law

Legislation invests in communities by relieving school debt

LANSING, Mich., Dec. 18, 2023 — A monumental $615 million supplemental budget bill package, House Bill 4292 and Senate Bill 174, was signed into law today. These year-end supplemental bills allocate funds to bring much-needed debt relief to five majority-Black school districts across the state. State Rep. Angela Witwer (Delta Township), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, joins her colleagues in applauding the investments.

“This is a proud moment for all of us who have worked tirelessly to secure a brighter future for students in Michigan,” said Witwer. “The debt forgiveness and tax relief provided by the supplemental budget allows these communities to move forward and focus on what matters most, and that’s providing a great education to our children.

State Rep. Angela Witwer (Delta Township) speaks at the signing ceremony for two year-end budget bills on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023 at the Pew Campus of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.

Among several provisions of the bills that put the people of Michigan first are funds to forgive the debt of five current and former school districts. These majority-Black districts coped with underinvestment and, in some cases, consolidation or dissolution. House Democrats allocated funding to right these historical wrongs and give students, schools and communities a solid financial footing.

“This is an exciting day for many school districts across our state, with this supplemental spending bill becoming law. In my district, around $25 million will help forgive the defunct Willow Run School District’s debt,” said state Rep. Jimmie Wilson, Jr. (D-Ypsilanti). “This is an important day for our students, teachers and district to make sure their funding can be used in more productive ways to educate. I want to thank all those who used their voice to help get this job done.”

“The debt forgiveness of the Pontiac School District is exactly what the schools and community need. The district can now better use resources to rebuild and uplift the students and schools back to a world-class learning environment for everyone. I’m thankful this debt is forgiven; this is a fresh financial start for PSD,” said state Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac).

“This is a huge win for the people of Inkster and all of the surrounding communities. By forgiving more than $12 million in the school’s debt that the community is now covering, we are ensuring that more money will be saved by our community residents. This means that our residents will have more money in their pockets,” said state Rep. Dylan Wegela (D-Garden City).

“Relieving the debt for Benton Harbor Area Schools is a game-changer. While other districts could dedicate all of their funding to supporting students, BHAS was saddled with debt payments,” said state Rep. Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph). “The signing of this budget bill, which I proudly supported, represents a fresh start for Benton Harbor students and the community at large.”

“The Legislature passed a year-end supplemental spending bill that includes $31.3 million to pay off debt in the Muskegon Heights Public School District. This will allow the school district and community to move forward, to heal and to begin a new chapter. This money and debt relief is by no means a cure-all but is tangible proof of the state’s commitment to help right this educational injustice. Forgiving the debt of school districts like Muskegon Heights isn’t merely erasing numbers; it’s providing hope, empowering educators and prioritizing children,” said state Rep. Will Snyder (D-Muskegon).