(The Center Square) – Michigan Republicans say Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed $81B budget for 2025 that would force taxpayers to fund pre-kindergarten through community college is unsustainable.
However, Democrats and an education group says the boosted spending would help educate Michigan’s workforce and attract more people.
Whitmer pitched enacting a “Michigan guarantee” that “Every single Michigander can count on a free public education from pre-K through community college,” Whitmer said.
“People are worried about rising costs, which is why I’m focused on making life more affordable,” Whitmer posted on social media. “With tax credits for working families, Pre-K for All, tuition-free community college, and more, we’re putting money back in your pocket.”
Rep. Andrew Fink, R-Adams Township, said that if enacted, the new programs equated to “mortgaging Michigan’s future.”
“The people I represent are being hit hard by inflation – they’re tightening their belts at the grocery counter and gas pump,” Fink said in a statement. “Meanwhile, our governor is on a frivolous and unsustainable spending spree.”
If enacted, the proposed 2025 budget would leave $19 million in the state’s account, although the Rainy Day fund would increase to $2.2 billion.
The prior $82 billion 2024 budget depleted all but $250 million of a $9 billion surplus.
Venessa Keesler, president and CEO of Launch Michigan, a public education nonprofit organization, welcomed the proposed new education spending counting pre-k, K-12, and postsecondary education.
“Not only will this budget expand opportunities for our youngest learners and increase Michigan’s talent pipeline through expanded access to higher education, but it also invests resources in rebuilding the funding for our K-12 education system — investments that are critical for us to reinvent Michigan’s public education system,” Keesler said in a statement.
These investments, combined with increased funding in education innovations in literacy and career exploration, will drive long-term change in our public education system and prepare our kids for a meaningful, rewarding life with financial stability. We’re looking forward to working side by side with the governor and legislature to get these important initiatives across the finish line for Michigan’s students.”
The education spending aims to tackle learning loss and poor outcomes for reading and math in Michigan schools.
Whitmer’s recent population report found that fewer than 33% of Michigan students are proficient in reading or math in the fourth and eighth grade, and grade-four reading proficiency for Black students in Michigan is at only 10%, lower than in any growing peer state.