Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed her second budget into law, ensuring that Michigan has its spending plan in place prior to the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. The budget delivers on many of her signature priorities, including the Michigan Reconnect program for a tuition-free pathway for adults, funding for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to ensure women have the care they need for a healthy pregnancy, and expanding access to childcare for families.
“While this budget faced many challenges along the way amidst a global pandemic, I am pleased that we were able to come together and produce a budget that funds the programs and services that matter most to our residents,” said Gov. Whitmer.
The budget protects schools, colleges, universities, and local governments from any state funding reductions below their original 2020 funding levels. The budget also includes new education investments focused on providing students, teachers, and adults across Michigan with needed resources, including:
$161 million in flexible per pupil spending to help districts address the increased costs of educating students in the midst of a pandemic. $30 million for the Michigan Reconnect program to provide a tuition-free pathway for adults looking to upskill and earn a postsecondary certificate or associate degree. Implementing Reconnect will help close the skills gap and move the state closer to reaching 60% postsecondary educational attainment by 2030. $5.6 million for mental health counselors to assist children in schools across Michigan with mental health needs. $5 million in incentives to attract and retain first-year teachers in districts across Michigan. An increase of $5.7 million to continue to fund literacy coaches and expand resources to improve training for other educators in best practices of literacy learning. $2 million in additional supports to assist vulnerable students who are learning remotely, including special education students, students who are chronically absent, and children in need of childcare while their parents are working. $2 million for Detroit Public TV to foster early childhood initiatives to enhance learning and early education. Implementation of previously announced teacher hazard payments of up to $500 per teacher, along with the addition of payments of up to $250 for school support staff. $1 million for school meal debt forgiveness.
When it comes to budget priorities for the health of families across Michigan, the budget includes:
$12.6 million for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to ensure women are given the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy and to expand support for interventions that are proven to improve outcomes. $26 million to expand access to childcare for families by increasing the income limit from 130% to 150% of the federal poverty level, expanding childcare services to nearly 6,000 children. $135 million to extend the $2.00/hour wage increase for direct care workers assisting the elderly and other vulnerable individuals during this especially difficult time. $20 million in additional support for nursing homes for COVID-19-related cost increases. $20 million to support the state’s psychiatric hospitals so that Michiganders in need of mental health services have improved access and care. $2 million for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund to protect Michigan families from lead in their homes. $10 million to implement foster care policies to keep more children with families rather than entering congregate care. $2.5 million to provide first responders with the mental health services they need, including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The 2021 budget includes critical funding for programs within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, including $100 million for business attraction efforts. A total of $28.7 million is provided for the Going PRO program to support job training grants to businesses to support training for current and new employees in high-demand, skilled trades industries. In addition, new funding of $3 million is provided for a statewide pre-apprenticeship program with the goal of developing qualified candidates for building trades apprenticeships in the construction industry. Funding for the popular Pure Michigan campaign is set at $15 million.
The budget also provides funding for critical initiatives directed at the environment, including $5 million that draws down significantly more in federal funding for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program to reduce runoff of contaminants into Lake Erie and other watersheds. The budget also adds $1 million to Michigan Saves to help Michigan families make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
A total of $4.2 million is provided to begin implementing the pre-trial incarceration task force recommendation for crisis intervention and de-escalation training through the Michigan Coalition on Law Enforcement Standards, helping ensure law enforcement officers have the training and education they need to intervene successfully. The budget includes $7 million to increase the number of troopers within the Michigan State Police.
The budget also includes $14.3 million in broadband funding to help expand internet access across the state which is more important than ever to Michiganders relying on telework, telehealth, and virtual learning.