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Republicans wary of Whitmer’s proposed taxpayer-funded programs

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed expanding the Michigan government by at least new five programs costing an unknown amount.

In a video talking to a potato, Whitmer proposed that taxpayers fund two years of community college for all high school graduates.

Whitmer also pitched enacting a “Michigan guarantee” that “Every single Michigander can count on a free public education from pre-K through community college,” Whitmer said.

Democrats welcomed the speech but Rep. Bill G. Schuette, R-Midland, said Michigan needs to invest in education and infrastructure.

“We need to focus on a practical, winning formula in Michigan – not more expensive, big government initiatives,” Schuette said in a statement.

Republicans attacked Whitmer for not fixing the roads, her 2019 campaign platform, and poor performance for state education.

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.

Schuette said Whitmer should take a hint from the Detroit Lions, which are one win away from their first Super Bowl appearance, and watch her “game tape.”

“She hasn’t fixed the roads,” Schuette said. “She has increased costs for Michigan families and has focused only on bitter partisan debates the last two years.”

Sen. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, welcomed Whitmer’s goal to make the largest housing investment in state history to build or rehabilitate nearly 10,000 homes.

“Affordable housing. Access to a college education. A booming manufacturing job market,” Hertel posted on social media. “That’s how we attract and retain talent, revitalize our communities and create an economy that allows anyone to have a fair shot at making it here in Michigan.”

Michigan’s education system has lost 200,000 students since 2010. In 2013, Michigan spent $15.3 billion to educate 1.5 million kids but in 2024, is spending $24 billion to educate 1.4 million kids, thanks to a 54% increase in the 2024 Michigan Department of Education budget.

The education budget includes $150 million for tutoring, $160 million for breakfast and lunch programs, and $25 million for before and after-school programs.

Michigan added $328 million for mental health and safety, $125 million for electric buses, $25 million for teacher mentoring, and $25 million for mentoring grants.

Other spending includes:

$140 million for early literacyA $90.9 million increase for the Great Start Readiness Program, the state-funded preschool program.The Great Start Readiness Program for 4-year-olds is getting enough money to cover costs for 5 days a week, 36 weeks a year for an expanded universe of families.$50M for before- and after-school programs.A 50% increase in bilingual education funding.

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