Whitmer’s $74 Billion Budget Includes Boosts for K-12 and Infrastructure

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed a $74.1 billion budget for the next year, a budget heavy on education and infrastructure spending as the state tries to move out of a COVID funk.

In making her budget recommendation, Whitmer said the budget makes “strong investments in education and putting Michiganders first by putting money back in their pockets and delivering on the issues that matter most to Michigan families.”

State Budget Director Christopher Harkins outlined the recommendations this morning to a joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. 

The budget recommendation invests in the success of students and teachers, accelerated Michigan’s economic momentum and supports our workforce, rebuilds the state’s roads, bridges, and pipes, improves the health of residents, and bolsters public safety.  

“Just two weeks ago, I delivered my State of the State address, where I outlined the bipartisan accomplishments of the past three years and shared my vision for the future. I laid out plans to cut taxes for seniors and working families by rolling back Michigan’s retirement tax, giving more than 500,000 households an average of $1,000 a year, and raising the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit, putting an average combined refund of $3,000 back in the pockets of 730,000 working families,” Whitmer said. “The budget I put forward today delivers on those tax cuts and makes strong investments in the kitchen-table issues that make a real difference in people’s lives.” 

Harkins called the budget “fiscally responsible.”

“(The budget) provides the type of investments that will move Michigan forward, with very strong support for our schools and for our economy,” Harkins said. “With the added revenues available to us and the strong support we have received from the federal government, this is a unique opportunity to transform our state for years to come. I look forward to working with the legislature over the next few months to ensure we get a budget into place by the June 30 deadline that makes the most out of this opportunity.” 

The budget recommendation totals $74.1 billion, including a general fund total of $14.3 billion and a school aid budget totaling $18.4 billion. It provides a significant amount of one-time funding while maintaining balance in future years and does not utilize one-time funds for ongoing purposes, Harkins said. 

Enhancing Education 
The budget recommendation provides for a school aid budget that marks the biggest state education funding increase in more than 20 years.

Among notable inclusions:

  • $600 million for educator recruitment programs to ensure the teacher talent pipeline continues to provide the education system with the best possible educators.

“(The) education budget proposes major new investments in students, staff, and schools,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “The budget will improve our children’s educational experiences across the state and will restrengthen public education by providing $4,000 to every school staff member over a two-year period and help to hire and train thousands of new teachers. The governor’s budget puts students first and will help them in their classrooms and in their lives.” 

The budget recommendation calls for funding centered on economic and workforce development, including: 

  • $500 million deposit into the Strategic Outreach and Reserve Fund to provide funding for economic development projects that invest in Michigan’s future and attract transformational projects that keep Michigan at the forefront of manufacturing. 
  • $50 million for Electric Vehicle Rebates to provide a $2,000 point-of-sale rebate for the purchase of a new electric vehicle and a $500 rebate for at-home charging equipment for a new or used electric vehicle.  
  • $500 million to provide hero pay for our frontline workers in support and recognition of their sacrifice during the pandemic. 

“While many people were able to stay home, grocery store workers showed up every day from the beginning of this pandemic to make sure Michigan families had the food and supplies they needed,” said John Cakmacki, president of UFCW Local 951.  “Our members have paid out of pocket for child care and protective gear, and they have lost sick time and in some cases their health and even their lives.” 

Improving Public Health 
The budget recommendation calls for funding centered on the health of Michigan families, including: 

  • $243.3 million for increased access to dental services for Medicaid enrollees that replicates the success of the Healthy Kids Dental program for adults by procuring Healthy Kids Dental, HMP dental, and fee-for-service adult dental services through a single combined managed care contract. 
  • $10.5 million for a child welfare services rate increase, which increases state rates to residential child caring institutions serving foster children by 5% and private residential juvenile justice providers by 12%.  
  • $20 million for to address racial health disparities.  
  • $50 million for statewide nutritional and food bank support to assist with infrastructure improvements to distribute food more efficiently to families in need of assistance, including the creation of an emergency stockpile of food in each food bank warehouse.   

Rebuilding Infrastructure 
The budget recommendation calls for  investments in Michigan’s infrastructure, including: 

  • $578 million in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to provide resources for several Michigan infrastructure projects that will continue to fix roads, bridges, railways, and local and intercity transit, while also providing capital improvements at airports.   
  • $480 million in fiscal year 2022 to increase road and bridge construction for state and local roads, highways, and bridges. 
  • $150 million to support projects that are economically critical, carry high traffic volumes, increase the useful life of key local roads, or will be completed in conjunction with bridge replacement projects.  
  • $66 million for generators for pump stations to ensure reliable generator backup power is available at all 164 MDOT-owned pumping stations, increasing public safety measures for highway flooding events. 
  • $60 million for rail grade separation to support projects at key congested local rail crossings that impede efficient movement of commercial and passenger vehicles and jeopardize timely public safety response in an emergency.   
  • $3.9 million for the Michigan Automated Weather Observation System Replacement Plan to increase public safety by replacing the state’s automated weather observations, some of which are 30 years old. 
  • $5 million to fund and staff the newly formed Michigan Infrastructure Office to effectively and efficiently implement federal infrastructure funding and serve as an interagency coordinating body across state government and stakeholder groups. 

“Governor Whitmer’s budget will make Michigan’s roads safer for Michiganders as they commute to work, drop their kids off at school, or run errands while helping to protect the hard-working folks risking their lives in work zones,” said Geno Alessandrini, Business Manager for the Michigan Laborers Union. “Fixing local roads with the right mix and materials will support good-paying construction jobs and continue growing Michigan’s economy.”

Investing in Safe Communities 
The budget recommendation calls for funding centered on safe communities, including: 

  • $50 million for first responder retention, to provide payments to law enforcement officers and public safety personnel, including state troopers, conservation officers, firefighters, EMTS, and local and state corrections employees who have performed hazardous work related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • $9.2 million for a state police trooper recruit school to graduate 50 new troopers in addition to the 120 troopers that are anticipated to be hired and trained using existing attrition savings.  
  • $48 million for community technical assistance for lead line replacement projects. 

“Law enforcement officers have stepped up from Day 1 of the pandemic to keep Michigan safe,” said Rob Figurski, President of the Michigan Association of Police Organizations. “Investing in retention is the smartest use of tax dollars to support law enforcement. Keeping experienced officers in the profession needs to be our collective priority.”