by Scott McClallen
Governor Gretchen Whitmer pitched a $74.1 billion budget that would increase state spending by $4.1 billion over the prior year.
Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, said Michigan’s 2009 budget was $48 billion and has grown in 13 years by $26.1 billion.
“Michigan has a $20 billion budget surplus. Instead of giving that money back to workers, Whitmer proposed nothing more than an Oprah-style taxpayer-funded giveaway to distract supporters from her own failed record and her pattern of hypocrisy,” Tori Sachs, executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund, said in a statement.
“Whitmer is giving away taxpayer dollars in hopes the people of Michigan will forget she ordered the most severe lockdowns that had no impact on health outcomes but led to the worst-in-the-nation economic recovery with the highest inflation while incomes are rapidly declining. Whitmer’s proposed budget offers nothing to workers and families desperately wishing for an off-ramp from COVID mandate madness,” Sachs added. “In two years, we’ve gone from two weeks to flatten the curve, to waiting until there’s a vaccine, to waiting for a percentage of the state to be ‘fully vaccinated,’ to these endless ‘rules for thee but not for me’ from Democrats across the country.”
Michigan has roughly $7 billion of federal funds to spend. Whitmer said her budget would deliver on “kitchen-table” issues such as tax cuts and public safety, building on priorities she spoke about in her State of the State address.
“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 in a statement.
The budget aims to spend roughly $18 billion on education, $6 billion on infrastructure, and $500 million on economic development.
State Budget Director Christopher Harkins called it “a fiscally responsible budget.”
- $1.6 billion for educator retention programs, including: $1.5 billion for payments to eligible teachers, administrators, and staff who work for four years in their school district.
- $1 billion to create a school infrastructure fund to provide $170 million annually, awarded to districts in the future for significant infrastructure projects to offset district costs.
- $580 million to increase base per-pupil funding from $8,700 to $9,135, a 5% increase
- $222 million to help economically disadvantaged students by providing an additional 11.5% of the base per-pupil amount per student and eliminating proration, increasing the total to $746.5.
- $150 million for special education students by increasing the reimbursement costs by five percentage points, up from 31% to 36%.
- $94.4 million for literacy-related programs in Detroit Public Schools.
- $72.6 million for pre-K education programs.
- $50 million for before- and after-school programs to recover learning loss.
State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice welcomed the budget.
“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,” Rice said in a statement. “The governor’s budget puts students first and will help them in their classrooms and in their lives.”
Whitmer pitched spending $500 million on the Strategic Outreach and Reserve Fund for economic development projects, $500 million in frontline worker hero pay, and $230 million for Transformational Education Infrastructure to promote partnership between higher education institutions, medical partners, and the electrification of vehicles.
Other spending would include:
- $200 million for the Michigan Regional Empowerment Program for economic development.
- $200 million for the Michigan Regional Empowerment program to provide matching funds for regional empowerment programs.
- $88 million to strengthen Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance System.
- $85.8 million for innovative workforce development programs.
- $50 million for Electric Vehicle (EV) Rebates to provide a $2,000 rebate for buying a new EV and a $500 rebate for at-home charging equipment for a new or used EV.
- $40 million to help communities that have experienced significant economic impacts from departure or disinvestment of large-scale employers and their workforces from their communities.
- $30 million in support for economic development in food and agricultural industries plus $10 million for rural development grants.
- $25 million for the Mobility Futures Initiative to support a statewide effort advancing Michigan’s position in the rapidly evolving mobility sphere.
The governor’s budget recommendation calls for funding centered on safe communities, including:
- $69.3 million to identify, assess, and clean sites of legacy contamination.
- $51.8 million deposit to the Budget Stabilization Fund, which would bring the rainy day fund balance to nearly $1.5 billion.
- $49.8 million for a 5% increase in both ongoing and one-time statutory revenue sharing to help counties cities, villages and townships.
- $50 million for first responder retention and COVID pay.
- $48 million for community technical assistance for lead line replacement projects.
- $40 million to households earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level to make minor home plumbing repairs for safe drinking water.
- $34.3 million local government for infrastructure needs and climate focused on addressing flooding, coastline erosion, transportation networks, urban heat, and storm water management.
- $10 million to begin the conversion of the state government fleet to electrical vehicles.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer” by Gretchen Whitmer.