Governor Gretchen Whitmer put pen to paper in Northern Michigan to sign the state’s largest ever education budget.
When asked why she chose Suttons Bay as the location to sign the $24.3 billion budget, Whitmer said why not in such a beautiful location and to show off a school budget that benefits rural areas.
When it comes to rural districts, this budget added funding to cover transportation costs for large area districts, fully funds special education and secures free breakfast and lunch for every student, regardless of income. It also increases per pupil funding an additional 5% or $458.
One of the concerns with so much spending is seeing the return on investment as Michigan sits low in national rankings for test scores. Will this increased funding show in improved scores? Whitmer says test scores are not the end all be all measurement and the improvement will show in other ways.
”Kids come in with different needs and that’s why this budget, whether it’ around mental health or food insecurity or around any of the additional supports that our kids need,” said Whitmer. “Before and after school programs, CTE programs, this is how we level the playing field. This is how we ensure every student is prepared to be successful. You won’t see it overnight but these investments will pay massive dividends.”
These additions have been possible due to federal COVID funding and recently high revenues by the state that aren’t expected to remain this high. This brings fears of cuts to funding in future budgets.
“We used one time dollars for one time expenditures. We have not created structural deficits. We have paid down billions in debt and we even put millions aside in a rainy day fund for education, to show how serious we are about making sure these investments stick,” said Whitmer. “That we can continue to make these long overdue investments well into the future. So this budget is just another example of when you work together, and you prioritize students, you can do big things and do it in a way that’s sustainable.”
According to the executive office the budget includes:
- $611 million to increase per-pupil funding by 5%, an additional $458 per student, for a total of $9,608 per-pupil. Per-pupil funding is up 22% since the Governor took office.
- $450 million deposit into a new rainy day fund for schools, setting aside resources for future needs and shoring up the long-term financial stability of the state’s public education system.
- $370 million to support teachers, including continued support for the MI Future Educator Fellowship (which provides a tuition free path for college students to become certified teachers) and funds to retain and develop existing teachers through mentoring programs.
- $328 million for mental health and school safety.
- $254.6 million to expand free pre-K for up to 5,600 kids, working towards Pre-K for All by the end of the Governor’s second term, saving families $10,000 a year and putting kids on the path to a brighter future.
- $204.5 million increase, for a total of $952 million, in funding for academically at-risk, economically disadvantaged students.
- $160 million to provide all 1.4 million public school students free breakfast and lunch.
- $150 million for individualized tutoring or academic support through the MI Kids Back on Track program.
- $140.3 million to continue expanded support for special education students, providing a full foundation allowance plus required cost reimbursements for each student.
- $125 million to fund matching grants for school districts to modernize their bus fleet by switching over to electric vehicles.
- $94.4 million for literacy-related programs and activities in Detroit’s public schools.
- $25.5 million to help students reach their full academic potential, including expansion of existing payments for literacy grants and literacy coaches.
- $25 million supporting new math intervention programs.
- $25 million for additional supports for vocational education and career and technical education equipment upgrades.
- $13.3 million to provide a 50% increase in funding for English language learners.
Higher Education & Workforce Development
- A 5% ongoing increase for university and community college operations.
- $112 million in Infrastructure, Technology, Equipment Maintenance, and Safety (ITEMS) funding to assist community colleges and universities improve existing facilities, infrastructure, technology, and campus security.
- $50 million additional investment for the ongoing costs of the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, lowering costs by thousands for students, bringing the FY24 investment to $300 million.
- $10 million to community colleges and public universities for critical incident mapping to help with campus safety.
- Up to $10 million annually to market the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, to promote lower costs for college degrees and credentials.
- $10 million to support adult postsecondary completion.
After the budget signing event, 9&10 News sat down one-on-one with the governor to touch on multiple topics from the budget to the population commission to the environment.