Whitmer signs record $24B education budget



(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the 2024 education budget with a record per-student investment in which taxpayers will foot all public school students’ breakfast and lunch, as well as pre-kindergarten for some 4-year-olds.

Democrats holding a political trifecta for the first time in 40 years say Senate Bill 173 will improve student success through tutoring, extra school programming, and literacy support.

“Every Michigan child deserves a chance to pursue their potential and build a bright future. This historic education budget will make that possible,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This budget puts students first and supports parents by expanding access to free pre-K, providing free breakfast and lunch to all public school students, and improving higher education.”

The budget includes for Pre-K-12 Education:

$611 million to increase per-pupil funding by 5%, an additional $458 per student, for a total of $9,608 per-pupil.$450 million deposit into a new rainy day fund for schools.$370 million to support teachers.Fellowship 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.$204.5 million increase in funding for academically at-risk, economically disadvantaged students.

House Republican Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, said Democrats’ $24.3 billion budget related to schools, universities, and community colleges underinvests in students.

“Michigan children who’ve struggled to learn to read won’t get much comfort from the fact that Democrats put pet projects – powered by a tax hike – over students’ academics,” said Hall, R-Richland Township. “While Republicans called for our state to invest resources to boost classroom learning, Democrats squeezed $2 billion for pork and new programs into the school budget — wasting money that could have provided nearly $1,400 more for each Michigan student.”

The budget spends $125 million on electric school buses, eliminates dedicated funding for school resource officers, and includes $4 million for enrolling kids in the free Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, and $5 million for a TV station.

State Budget Director Christopher Harkins welcomed the budget.

“From preschool to postsecondary, the education budget makes strategic investments that will make a difference in the lives of all Michiganders pursing an education,” Harkins said in a statement. “This budget invests in every classroom; continues to support our current and future educators; increases funding to state universities and community colleges to prepare our future workforce; and practices fiscal responsibility by setting resources aside in a new rainy day fund for schools.”

Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, said the budget will ensure Michigan kids can succeed.

“We’re bringing new approaches to age-old problems, like supporting intervention programs that help kids with specific challenges, ensuring every student has a meal to eat during the school day, and making teacher education more affordable,” Brinks said in a statement. “The legislation being signed today will have both an immediate impact and a generational one, and I am tremendously proud to be leading a Senate that has been so diligent in delivering for the families of Michigan.”

The bill includes for Higher Education & Workforce Development:

A 5% ongoing increase for university and community college operations.$112 million in Infrastructure, Technology, Equipment Maintenance, and Safety funding.$50 million additional investment for the ongoing costs of the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.$10 million to community colleges and public universities for critical incident mapping.Up to $10 million annually to market the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.

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