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Michigan Legislature OKs $82B record budget

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(The Center Square) – Michigan taxpayers are on the hook for a record $82 billion budget for fiscal year 2024.

Republican lawmakers opposed passage of he record spending amount as unsustainable, citing the budget’s increased hiring of 899 permanent government employees.

This budget is an increase of $8 billion compared to the last budget, and was passed mere hours after being pushed through committee to meet a self-imposed July 1 deadline.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer celebrated the budget.

“It lowers costs on health care, preschool, meals for kids, higher education, housing, and workforce training,” Whitmer said in a statement. “It will help us keep fixing the damn bridges, replacing lead pipes, and protecting public safety. And it will power ‘Make it in Michigan,’ our comprehensive vision for economic development so we can win more projects, invest in people, and revitalize places.”

The budget includes a $15.2 billion general fund and a $19.4 billion School Aid Fund.

The K-12 education budget includes $611 million to increase per-pupil funding by 5%, an additional $458 per student, for a total of $9,608 per pupil, a $450 million deposit into a new rainy day fund for schools, and $370 million to support teachers, including continued support for the MI Future Educator Program to provides a tuition-free path for college students to become certified teachers.

The budget funds $328 million for mental health and school safety, $254.6 million to expand free pre-K for up to 5,600 kids, and $160 million for free breakfast and lunch.

Another $125 million will fund matching grants for school districts to switch to electric vehicle buses, while $150 million will fund tutoring and $140.3 million will expand support for special education students.

The budget provides a 5% ongoing increase for university and community college operations for Higher Education & Workforce Development. Other spending includes:

$112 million in Infrastructure, Technology, Equipment Maintenance, and Safety funding to assist community colleges and universities.$70 million to temporarily lower the eligibility age for Reconnect from 25 to 21, making eligible 350,000 more Michiganders.$50 million for the ongoing costs of the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, lowering costs by thousands for students, bringing the FY24 investment to $300 million.$37.8 million for the College Success Fund.

Notable public health spending includes $140 million to increase wages for direct care workers and other staff assisting those with disabilities and seniors, $156.8 million to increase reimbursement rates for Medicaid services, and $56.4 million to fund Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies.

Public safety spending includes $171.5 million in public safety grants, $34.2 million to enact recommendations from the Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, $30 million for Detroit freeway cameras, and $18.2 million to provide in-service training to licensed law enforcement officers.

House Republican Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, said the budget “tees up future tax hikes.”

“The Democrats’ pork-barrel budget wastes the people’s dollars and tees up future tax hikes to pay for irresponsible, unsustainable programs,” Hall said in a statement. “Their spending is a mile wide and an inch deep – funding all sorts of half-baked programs without giving enough support to actually deliver the solutions the people of Michigan deserve. This ridiculous plan fails to fix our local roads, bridges, and water infrastructure. It leaves our police departments without help to hire new officers. And it even removes the dedicated funding set aside exclusively for school safety officers.”

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