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Gov. Whitmer presents $80 billion budget proposal

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer presented her annual budget plan on Wednesday, encouraging lawmakers to support programs she says will make Michigan a better place.

The $80.7 billion plan includes $14 billion for the state’s general fund and $23 billion for education. Whitmer recommended programs she had highlighted in her State of the State address, including free community college for all high school graduates, no-cost pre-K and an extension of the state’s school breakfast and lunch program.

“My proposal today will deliver the vision that I outlined a couple of weeks ago, lowering costs, improving education and ensuring that anyone and everyone can make it here in Michigan,” Whitmer said to legislators.

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The figure is lower than last year’s $82 billion budget, which was boosted by federal aid programs to become the largest in state history.

Lawmakers will negotiate the specifics of the budget over the coming months as Whitmer seeks to gain bipartisan support and keep her projects off the chopping block. At least a handful of Republican legislators will need to sign on to the legislation for the funding to be provided in a timely manner.

Republicans were quick dismiss some of Whitmer’s recommendations as unrealistic. House Republican Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, said in a statement that some of Whitmer’s priorities amount to “fool’s gold programs that feel good but don’t provide real value for their tax dollars.”

“With total control of state government over the last year, Democrats have spent enormous sums of taxpayer dollars on unsustainable programs and pet projects for politically favored areas,” Hall said. “The people of Michigan deserve a government that works for them and delivers value for their dollars. The governor’s budget of misplaced priorities doesn’t cut it.”

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Rep. Ken Borton, R-Gaylord, compared Whitmer to “that friend who wants to catch up over a pricey dinner but conveniently leaves right before the bill comes.”

“Today, the governor used every fancy buzzword in the dictionary to justify spending our tax dollars on frivolous new programming,” he said in a statement. “There was no substantive conversation about how to fix our crumbling local roads and bridges, provide tax relief to working families, or improve our unreliable energy grid.”

State Budget Director Jen Flood said that the budget proposal in its current form would make a real difference in cost of living for Michigan residents.

“The Governor’s budget will help kids learn, lower costs, and spark investment and create new jobs in our state,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to working with our legislative partners to make Michigan the best state to live, work, raise a family, and care for those we love.”

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Other programs funded in Whitmer’s recommendation include $300 million for school student mental health support, $500 million in business attracting incentives and $700 million for road infrastructure improvement.

“Let’s keep prioritizing public safety and build a safer, more just state for all,” Whitmer told legislators. “In 2024, let’s keep focusing on the fundamentals — building housing, lowering people’s costs, improving education and fixing infrastructure.”

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